You'll love this one...!! A book club & more discussion

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Group Themed Reads: Discussions > September read: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane ~ discussion led by Karen

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message 1: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Join in the discussion for our September selection for the theme "Books That Made It To The Movies": Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Karen will be leading our discussion. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on what you thought of the book. Note that this thread will contain spoilers...


message 2: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Looking forward to this one! Need to catch up a bit as haven't read it yet :S but I've seen the film so know the plot. Interested to find out if the book is just as good and what other people thought to the film. Was it done well?


message 3: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Well, after a slow start, I absolutely flew through the last half and was stunned, duped, flabbergasted! I have not seen the film but it was easy to picture Leo as Teddy as I read along ;0) I just bumped the movie up in our Netflix queue so we can watch it over the weekend. I normally hate watching a movie so soon after reading a book because all I do is compare, but I think it will be fun to sit back and enjoy the ride now that I know the twists up ahead.

I'm glad this book was selected here because I wouldn't have read it otherwise - the previews for the film left me thinking it was a very different type of story than what I discovered when I read it.


message 4: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Yeh me to. The preview made it look very much like a horror film which it isn't at all.


message 5: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments I totally dig horror - but I thought it was some type of time travel or fantasy element involved - more sci-fi which I am not normally into. I'm curious to find out if the movie or the book is preferred - and if it made a difference which was experienced first.


message 6: by Apokripos (new)

Apokripos (apokalypse) Read the book, watched the movie...

I sort of like the book most.

Lehane is such a manipulative writer and that folks spells GREAT!!


message 7: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Manipulative is the perfect way to describe his efforts here. Did anyone not get duped when they read/watched this for the first time?

It must be incredibly challenging to write one story from 2 completely different parallels. I actually went back and re-read the first third of the book as soon as I had finished to see if it worked from a position of knowledge - and it did.

The only piece that didn't seem clear to me was who was that former doctor woman he met in the caves? Was she planted there to ensure his safety once he went off down the cliffs unexpectedly? Or was she an escaped inmate/patient with the same delusions he had? Everyone else's role was explained. Did I miss something there?

My other question was why he never slipped back to his known reality throughout the exercise? It seemed that once they got him to face the facts he was normally aware of who his doctors were but created a different reality for his surroundings in his head to stay "sane." So how did they get him to not recognize them or where he was at all for that extended period of time?


message 8: by Apokripos (new)

Apokripos (apokalypse) Molly wrote: "The only piece that didn't seem clear to me was who was that former doctor woman he met in the caves? Was she planted there to ensure his safety once he went off down the cliffs unexpectedly? Or was she an escaped inmate/patient with the same delusions he had? Everyone else's role was explained. Did I miss something there?"

I think this is part of Teddy's seemingly complicated role play or just his hallucination...


message 9: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I've started to read the book and it seems very close to the film. As far as the doctor in the cave is concerned I can only comment on the film, and my impression was that she was a hallucination. I'll let you know when I reach it in the book.


message 10: by Dan (new)

Dan Smith | 5 comments I read the book on holiday a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. A good thriller, and I'd definitely read another of his books. I hadn't seen the film, but I'd seen enough clips and trailers to suspect that something was afoot. Also, I found myself imagining Leo DiCaprio. I'm going to watch the film tonight, so . . .


message 11: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Let me know how they compare Dan. I'm expecting the movie in the mail any day now and will be watching it this weekend. I too kept picturing Leo in my head - which wasn't a bad thing as far as I was concerned ;0)

As for Lehane's other works, I enjoyed Mystic River - both the movie and the book. I thought it would have been helpful to have read the book first since there were some background pieces left out that would have made things a bit more clear going in. I haven't read any others yet.


message 12: by Kim (new)

Kim | 3 comments I watched the movie, then listened to the book during commutes on CD. I think I actually enjoyed the movie better (this is unusual for me - I almost always like books better than their movie counterparts). Maybe it could have been because I listened to it on audio? I was kind of turned off by the language, and maybe on audio it seemed worse than it actually was...


message 13: by Dan (new)

Dan Smith | 5 comments Well, I saw the film last night and I think it lost something because I knew what to expect. It's a good film that follows the book very closely, but the ending didn't come as the surprise that it should've. Leo was very good, some of the imagery worked well, and the way it was filmed gave everything a kind of dreamy quality. I thought the flashback to his real past, right at the end, was particularly good. Unfortunately it's one of those things, though - if you see the film first, it will spoil the book, but if you read the book first . . .


message 14: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Yes - that is a conundrum. I generally prefer to read the book. Then wait a long time so the details aren't so fresh. And then watch the movie. Or vice versa. For instance, I watched the movie Rebecca a long time ago. I read the book last year. I didn't remember all of the specifics per se - just the main points - but the whole time I read all of the very descriptive prose I had these fabulous images playing in my head from the movie which was kind of nice.

I am most interested in seeing the cinematography here - it seems as though Scorsese's crew did it right.


message 15: by Mandy (new)

Mandy (mandyh) | 37 comments Well, I finished reading the book this morning. It made for a really interesting read, with the ending leaving me wondering. Quite a fascinating idea, to leave the reader unsure as to what was real.
Apart from that, the whole idea of a mental hospital for the criminally insane isolated on a presumably remote island is for me, the stuff of nightmares.
I look forward to seeing the film, and will probably reread this book again at some stage.
I gave this four stars.


message 16: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Mandy - at the very end, I assumed that Teddy slipped back from reality and his doctor responded by continuing the role playing method, knowing that he could not save Teddy from the lobotomy. In going back and reading the introduction again told by the doctor (aka "Chuck"), it seemed to validate that Teddy was in fact a patient and everything we read was just Teddy's reality and not actuality - as was revealed so horrifyingly to him and the reader near the end. So the only piece I was unsure of from a reality perspective was the woman in the cave. What pieces were still uncertain to you when you finished?

I live outside of Boston and have visited Thompson Island in the Harbor Islands which housed a boy's reform school from the early 1800's through the 1970's. So I got to wondering if any of the many harbor islands fit Shutter Island's description, since Lehane is from Boston himself.

Per Wiki....
-George's Island, did have a fort on it with a Civil War prison.
-During the King Phillip's War the local Indian population was shipped over to Deer Island and left for dead - and many of them did perish there.
-Multliple harbor islands have had sewage treatment plants constructed on them.
-The British set camp on Long Island during the Revolutionary War and it was the site of military camps during the Civil War as well. A lighthouse was subsequently built at its highest point and a formal fort came into being in the early 1900's. Lots of municipal buildings were constructed over the years since to service the homeless and at one time it did house a hospital for chronic disease and the island was only accessible by ferry until the 1950's when a bridge was built.
-Nixe's Island is off of Long Island and gets swallowed up and uncovered daily by the tide.
-Rainsford Island also had quarantine hospitals.
-The movie was filmed in part on Peddocks Island where there was also an active fort through WW2.

Sounds to me like Long Island fits most closely, especially with Nixe's Island (where the rats swam to in the book) just off shore. But as far as I can tell, no criminally insane hospitals were ever operational out there. Does give you the willies just to think about it though, doesn't it?


message 17: by Mandy (new)

Mandy (mandyh) | 37 comments Thanks so much for the additional information. I am writing from the UK, so know little of the Boston area.
Your explanation does seem to make a lot of sense. I was left feeling uncertain about whose reality was correct, but leaning more towards Teddy actually being a patient.
I presumed that the woman in the cave was part of the hallucinations as was the sight of Chuck on the beach, which later turned into a rock covered with seaweed.


message 18: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Jackson (melaniejaxn) | 5 comments Noty a big Lehane fan, but I loved this one. The movie was well done, but couldn't include everything from the book. Also, the movie suggested an ending (or motivation for the ending) to me that I hadn't considered while reading the book. I think maybe Teddy wasn't slipping back into his delusional madness but rather realized what he had done and that he couldn't handle it and decided that getting a lobotomy might be best.


message 19: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments I was poking around online regarding the book and someone posed a question about the role of water in the book. I hadn't really made the connection even now that Teddy's fear of water was essentially enormous foreshadowing of the fact that he is continuously haunted by the drowning of his children.

Do you think the whole history of his fishing trip with his father was real or was that part of his imagined reality too? I no longer have the book to refer back to. Which came first - his fear of the sea as a boy or his aversion to water because his children were drowned by their mother? In other words, did he imagine a different childhood for himself after the trauma with his wife? I personally think the childhood fear was real, and then was made even greater by the events with his family. I find it ironic that he is now surrounded by water - trapped on an island by one of his greatest fears. No wonder he can't escape from the imagined world he created for himself.


message 20: by Mandy (new)

Mandy (mandyh) | 37 comments It would be nice to think that there is some part of Teddy's story that is real. I like to think that his fear of the sea did start in childhood with that boat-trip with his father. This would make the nightmare even greater, carrying his dead children from the water.
It would then follow that Teddy would find it almost impossible to relinquish his imagined world, to return to such dreadful knowledge. The realisation that possibly he could have done something to stop his wife, recognising her madness.
The possibility that the childhood fear existed perhaps makes the later madness even more plausible in the novel.


message 21: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Molly - I hadn't thought about the water. Like Mandy, I want to believe that at least some of Teddy's story is real, the fact that he was a marshal is true so I think his fear of water would have started with his father.

In regards to watching the film first, for once, I'm glad I did! The film sticks very closely to the book so I was able to read the book and pick up all the little clues that appear through the first 3/4 of it. It didn't matter to me that I knew the ending. I think if I'd done it the other way round I wouldn't have enjoyed the film as much. And like melanie said, the ending of the film leaves you wondering whether teddy is actually well aware of reality, he's just chosen not to live with it anymore. I didn't get this feeling with the book.

I'm definately going to give some of his other books a try, really enjoyed this one.


message 22: by Dan (new)

Dan Smith | 5 comments Jenny wrote: "Molly - I hadn't thought about the water. Like Mandy, I want to believe that at least some of Teddy's story is real, the fact that he was a marshal is true so I think his fear of water would have s..."

Yes, that's the impression the film gave at the end - that Teddy had made a choice. Not at all what I got from reading the book. Actually, I think it makes a better ending; it somehow feels more tragic.


message 23: by Chris (new)

Chris (christmax) I loved both the film and the book and I'm definitely going to try read something else by him soon.


message 24: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments We watched the movie this weekend finally. I thought it was filmed beautifully and captured the scene/emotions really well. Though I couldn't help but notice all the aside glances and hints throughout the movie pointing to the truth, my husband was too focused on trying to follow the plot to notice. He actually didn't like the movie at all - the flashbacks confused him a bit trying to grasp what they had to do with anything. I just don't think he was in the mood to follow along.

I enjoyed the book better because of course it can focus on so much more detail to heighten the stress and despairing situation. It also could go more deeply into Teddy's past and better give you the true connection and love he had for his wife. I did like the flashbacks in the movie - they were very rich. But the book had the time that the film didn't to round everything out.

I didn't think Teddy was as much of a bad-ass in the movie as I thought he was portrayed in the book. I always felt he was more in control in the book because he was so tough and in tune - making me all the more shocked to discover he was a patient. In the movie Leo's portrayal was more of a man uncertain.

I was amused that the movie left out so much of the code cracking. That part was highly unbelievable in the book to me - regardless of his military training. I thought enough of it was covered in the film to get what we needed to move the plot along.

All in all, I preferred the book and was glad to have read it before seeing the film. The ending in the movie was fascinating to me - so much changed with just the addition of an extra line. Teddy certainly seemed to have made a choice in the film whereas in the book, he seemed to be back inside his imagined world avoiding reality.


message 25: by Jenny, Group Creator - Honorary Moderator (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Glad you enjoyed it molly. When I first saw the film I remember whatching it thinking 'what the hell is going on, this is a load of crap' and then the twist came and I totally changed my mind and realised how clever it was. Really need to watch it again now. Definately agree that teddy is a little more bad ass in the book and less of the code cracking was a good thing.


message 26: by Candace (new)

Candace (candacecane) jzhunagev wrote: "Molly wrote: "The only piece that didn't seem clear to me was who was that former doctor woman he met in the caves? Was she planted there to ensure his safety once he went off down the cliffs unexp..."

I read that part as her being one of the doctors that were in on creating this elaborate play of his "reality". I only read Shutter Island because I saw the movie preview and was convinced I knew the ending. I was right and extremely impressed by Lehane's writing.


message 27: by Carly (new)

Carly Svamvour (faganlady) | 121 comments I've forgotten what group I was doing Shutter Island for - but I liked it. And the movie.

Might just do it again.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Loved it! 5/5 stars.

The mystery was excellent, the action exciting, and the twist ingenious!I will definitely be reading more books by Dennis Lehane.


Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) | 7 comments This book was great! I did not see the twist coming, and it threw me for a loop. The action was nonstop, and the characters really interesting. I watched the film version, and it was okay. Nowhere near as exciting as the book, though!


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