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Jack Dawkins
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2015 Book of the Month Reads > February: "Jack Dawkins" by Charlton Daines

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message 1: by Shelli, Co-owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Shelli | 116 comments Mod
February's book of the month.

message 2: by Shelli, Co-owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Shelli | 116 comments Mod
Historical Fiction Discussion Questions
For the person who chose this book: What made you want to read it? What made you suggest it to the group for discussion? Did it live up to your expectations? Why or why not?

Discuss the book's structure. Does the author use any narrative devices like flashbacks or multiple voices in telling the story? How does this affect the story and your appreciation of the book? Do you think the author did a good job with it? How do you think it might have been different if another character was telling the story?

Talk about the author's use of language/writing style. Have each member read his or her favorite passage out loud. (You might want to warn them ahead of time that they'll be doing this so they'll be prepared.) How does this particular passage relate to the story as a whole? Does it reveal anything specific about any of the characters or illuminate certain aspects of the story?

Talk about the time period in which the story is set. How well does the author convey the era? Did you have a sense of whether or not the author remained true to the events, social structures and political events of the time period?

Is this a time period that you knew a lot about before you read this book? If so, did you learn anything new? If not, did you come away with a greater understanding of what this particular time and place in history was actually like?

Is it difficult to keep our own, modern-day experiences from influencing the reading of a historical fiction tale? Can we imagine what life was really like for the characters within the context of the time period?

Compare this book to other works of historical fiction your group has read. Is it similar to any of them? Did you like it more or less than other books you've read? What do you think will be your lasting impression of the book?

Why do you suppose works of historical fiction are so popular with readers? What appeals to you the most about these types of books?

What did you like or dislike about the book that hasn't been discussed already? Were you glad you read this book? Would you recommend it to a friend? Do you want to read more work by this author?

message 3: by Shelli, Co-owner of Cafe Libri (new)

Shelli | 116 comments Mod
Post from Cafe Libri Yahoo:

Wow, lots of questions! Sorry for the slow reply, I've been away a couple of days.

1. Originally I wanted to read it because the character has always been interesting and the Musical, Oliver!, especially made him inttiguing as played by Jack Wild. I always wanted to know what ever happened to him (the Artful Dodger, I know what happened to Jack Wild) and after reading samples of several books about him as well as a few of the books all the way through, I decided this was the best one. Yes, it lived up to my expectations. I thought it was very well done! I wanted to share it with other readers who might share my fascination for the character.

2. I liked the Victorian feel of the book and how it affected the narrative. He didn't get overblown like some authors do with Victorian phrases and slang, but used just enough to keep it accessible for modern readers. I think Jack had to tell his own story. Another person would only see a part of him, especially with him moving between social groups.

3. As in question 2, I found the style very good for this story. Favourite passages are many, but I was hooked by the very beginning;
"The white cliffs of Dover slowly appeared through the mist rising from the ocean surface. Jack stood at the rail of the ship, watching his homeland draw closer with every lap of the waves.
I’m home, he thought to himself in the near silence of early morning. The moisture stinging his eyes threatened his normally cool composure. Jack Dawkins didn’t get emotional over a country that shut him out, or so he tried to convince himself. It was only his satisfaction at returning illegally that had him over excited."

4. I've read the author's blog so I know he's a professor of History, specialising in Victorian era. Yes, he got even small details right. How well did he convey them? I really felt I was there.

5. I read a lot of Victorian era books, both written in the period and modern writers writing Historical Fiction, so it's familiar but I'm not an expert. I actually looked up a couple of things, like the volley gun which is something I had to know whether it really existed. It did. I would say this added another layer to my impressions of Victorian England, as shaped by Dickens himself as well as other authors from the period.

6. I get very deeply into the setting of a book, whether it's a historical period or a completely fantasy world. It's getting back that can be tricky after a good read. Crossing London bridge and thinking it was nicer with horse drawn Hackney carriages than cars.

7. I'm not sure which other Historical books this group has read, but it was different in that it focused on a familiar character.

8. As a Fantasy reader, I think Historical works fill a similar need to be transported t another world. It's just more realistic.

9. Actually, I recently bought his Christmas book, which is a sort of sequel to this book, or at least uses some of the same characters. One thing I really liked was the dilemma Jack faced when he had a chance to slip into wealthy society. His familiar criminal world had both comforts and discomforts to offer him. I also liked the humour that slipped in sometimes and the resolutions for the various characters. It was very tidy at the end with everyone accounted for in one way or another. It was obviously meant to be a stand alone book rather than a start to yet another series.

Pam M

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