A Citizen of the Country

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Random House Publishing Group, Feb 1, 2002 - Fiction - 448 pages
1 Review
1. At the beginning of this novel, Alexander announces his distrust of Perdita, his blind and 'risky' wife. Do you think he truly learns to trust and accept her? Why or why not? 2. Perdita has sacrificed a great deal in the name of her family. Does Alexander truly appreciate the extent of her sacrifices? Can Perdita reconcile herself to these sacrifices and move forward? 3. Will Perdita ever think of Paris as home? 4. Alexander and Andre are both struggling to find their home in the world. How do you define home? 5. This novel opens with a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke: 'We are born, so to speak, provisionally, it doesn't matter where. It is only gradually that we compose within ourselves our true place of origin.' Do you agree? Or do you think we are prisoners of our past? 6. Alexander and Gilbert are both haunted by William Knight. Do you think they finally manage to exorcise his ghost? 7. Alexander tells Perdita, 'I am sorry. I am more than you bargained for.' Have you ever felt this way? How did you deal with it? 8. After overhearing Perdita tell their son his secrets, Alexander vows to teach his son 'that one can be wrong without being vile and right without being God.' What has Alexander finally learned? 9. The families in this novel have been fractured and reconstituted in many different ways--death, adoption, rediscovery. How do you de-fine family? 10. Do you think Toby will have the happy family that his parents and uncle want so desperately for him? 11. Andre is very cruel to a wife who truly loves him. What do you think of Andre's treatment of Sabine? Does she deserve it? 12. What do you make of Sabine? Is she a monster or a spoiled child or a gifted witch? 13. Why did Andre's mother make that fateful final decision? 14. Will Andre be able to carry on with his role as Necrosar at the Grand Necropolitan? Or has the reckoning with his past robbed him of the need and ability to be Necrosar? 15. How do you define a citizen of a country? Is it based purely on legal documentation? 16. Cyron has become a national hero and symbol, but at what cost? 17. What do you think Cyron's intentions were when Alexander confronted him in his office? Do you think Cyron would have shot Alexander if Gilbert had not intervened? 18. Many characters in this novel are forced to choose between their personal lives and their duty to their nation. Under what circumstances does duty to country supercede duty to family and vice versa? 19. Did you figure out the secret of Montfort? 20. One reviewer has commented, 'Smith defines even her minor characters clearly and crisply.' Which of the minor characters was most memorable for you? 21. When this novel ends, the outbreak of World War I is only a few years away. What do you imagine will be the fate of these characters in the midst of this devastating war? 22. This novel is the concluding volume in a trilogy. Have you read the other novels? How does this one compare? If not, do you plan to read the other volumes? 23. Overall, how does your group rate this novel? How does it compare with other works your book group has read? 24. What is your group reading next? How do you decide what books to read?

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About the author (2002)

Sarah Smith has lived in Japan, London, and Paris. A Harvard Ph.D., she is a former film teacher with a special love for the early films she evokes in this book. She is also the author of the New York Times Notable Books The Vanished Child and The Knowledge of Water. She lives near Boston with her husband, two teenagers, and two cats. She is Webmaster for the Mystery Writers of America.

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