This reading group guide for Bright and Distant Shores includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In 1897 Chicago, an insurance magnate who has just built the world’s tallest building sponsors a sea voyage into Melanesia to gather artifacts for his private collection. He wants to outdo his rival Marshall Field’s museum by bringing back not only artifacts, but indigenous people for a rooftop exhibition. Caught up in this scheme are two orphans—Owen Graves, an itinerant trader from Chicago’s South Side who has recently proposed to the girl he leaves waiting in Chicago, and Argus Niu, a mission houseboy from the New Hebrides. As the century draws to a close, the two young men and their cultures are set on a collision course.TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
- Discuss Owen and Adelaide’s relationship, and how it is affected by their different social and economic statuses. How are their views of each other influenced by each other’s perception, rather than the reality of their feelings?
- Discuss the similarities and differences between how Owen and Argus deal with being orp