OLEANNA READING GROUP GUIDE
Enhance Your Reading Group Meeting
The folk traditions of Norway are an important part of the storyline; bring your favorite folk art from your own tradition to share. Or, turn your meeting into a potluck featuring food traditions from around the world.
Beautiful landscapes feature prominently in Oleanna. Hold your meeting at a local park, bring photos or videos of your favorite landscape to your meeting, or combine your meeting with a volunteer outing for a local environmental charity.
For More Information
I'd love to join your next book club meeting! I'm available to join meetings in person throughout Northern California, or worldwide via Skype or teleconference. Email juliekrose at gmail.com for more information.
1. The landscape and location of Oleanna is an important part of the book. In what ways does the physical state of the land relate to Oleanna's emotional state? Anders'? Elisabeth's?
2. Life on the farm is necessarily influenced by the rhythms of the seasons. How do the seasons affect the characters? How do they reflect the characters' emotional states? How do you move with the rhythm of the seasons in your own life?
3. Norway is not a typical setting for historical fiction. What did you learn about the country, and how did your perceptions change?
4. Oleanna is set during a time of political change in Norway. How does the coming independence of the country affect the characters and their choices? Does political change in your own country affect your perceptions of yourself, and your opportunities?
5. What do you think the different worlds of Oleanna—life by the lake, and life in the city—represent for the characters? If you had the choice, where would you ideally like to live? What changes and choices would you have to make to live there?
6. Why do you think Oleanna made the choices she did at the end of the book? What do you think would you have done in her circumstances?
7. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, one-third of the population of Norway emigrated to America. John leaving for America to start a new life is traumatizing for Elisabeth and Oleanna, and for John. What do you think life was like for John in the Dakotas? What is your own family's immigrant experience?
8. Elisabeth is an unmarried mother of an active child in 1905. Why do you think she made the choice not to marry? What made her change her mind? In those circumstances, what would you have done?
9. The folk art of Norway is an important part of the characters' lives, a natural extension of the way they live and what they believe. What are the folk arts of your country, or the country of your ancestors? What do they mean to you today?
10. Anders is an agent of change in Oleanna's life, and she in his. How did they change each other? What do you think Anders was like before coming to Jølster? Who has been an agent of change in your life?