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Book Club Reading Questions

Book Club Questions for Here Until August by Josephine Rowe | WellRead’s January 2020 selection

Book Club Questions for Here Until August by Josephine Rowe | WellRead’s January 2020 selection

WellRead’s January 2020 selection was Here Until August by Josephine Rowe. A collection of short stories that are so brilliant, they’ll knock the wind right out of you. Each story is so different and yet each shows us a person negotiating their place in the world as they stagger towards a critical transformation.

Use these discussion questions to engage with the book further, whether in a book club with friends, or just on your own as you digest the story. 

Reading questions for Here Until August by Josephine Rowe

  • How long did it take you to read the stories? Did you race through them or did you find that you could only manage one or two at a time? Do you think your reading time influenced how you felt about them?

  • Rowe’s Australian stories avoid cliché but have such a rich familiarity to them. Did you notice this? How do you think Rowe engineers this without going overboard?

  • It takes a few pages for each story to develop context. Gradually, details are revealed and characters developed until the central message of the story is understood. Of this, one reviewer remarked: “you may not know where each piece is going at the beginning, but the world and the characters are believable, which allows you to follow them”. Did you find this disorienting or were you at the mercy to Rowe’s writing?

  • Can we talk about Rowe’s absolute masterly and sublime handle of language? To describe the onset of summer: “the first sleeveless days have slunk in late...where we have been waiting to pounce on them with dirty laundry and spritzed Aperol”; a woman in black jeans is “big-city skinny, heartbreak skinny”; and this gem: “It is magic in the sense that there is no metaphor you can build out of it that will not undermine its magic.” What were some of your favourites?

  • So much goes unsaid in these stories and yet so much is intimated. Rowe trusts us to navigate complicated emotional territory. Did you appreciate the space she gave you as a reader to understand her characters’ lives?

Please note, these questions were written and distributed in January, 2020.