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Book Club Reading Questions

Book Club Questions for Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas | WellRead’s April 2023 selection

Book Club Questions for Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas | WellRead’s April 2023 selection

WellRead’s April 2023 selection was Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas. In the words of the author herself, “When I’m asked to describe what Thirst for Salt is about, I often say simply, ‘it’s a love story’, because I believe the best love stories—like The Lover by Marguerite Duras or Cleanness by Garth Greenwell—teach us something about what it means to be alive. An early inspiration came from thinking about the influence of the stories we tell when we talk about love, including the stories we inherit from our parents. For that reason, I wanted the novel to show different kinds of love outside the narrator’s formative affair with Jude, the older man she meets the summer she turns twenty-four.

So, in these pages you’ll also read about a complicated bond between a mother and daughter, the almost-maternal feelings one can have towards a younger sibling, and the love of a good dog—which might be the closest any of us can get to a love that feels unconditional.”

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 Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas:

  • The narrator and Jude create a world together. It’s very insular and even claustrophobic at times. Why do you think their relationship needed to be so contained?
  • In an interview, Lucas said that she was drawn to the dynamic of a younger woman and older man because she saw it “as a way to dramatise the larger structural power imbalance between men and women within the more intimate space of a romantic relationship.” Discuss how these structural power imbalances manifest in their relationship.
  • Did being in the mind of someone in their early twenties evoke memories for you? How did you feel being in this headspace?
  • “Roles can get confused in small families.” What do you think the narrator means by this and how does the dynamic play out in her family?
  • Towards the end of the novel, the narrator has the idea that it’s not love and hate that are twins but love and grief. Discuss what she is intimating here. Do you agree?
  • “Why carry all that around with you?” The narrator’s mother asks, referring to her memories of Jude. Do you think we choose the memories we revisit?
  • Do you think the narrator is remembering the person (Jude) or the feeling (desire)?
  • Did you love that big old dog as much as we did? Why do you think Lucas chose to include King in the story?
  • What do you think the title means?

Please note, these questions were written and distributed in April, 2023.