The Navigator of New York Book Club Guide

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I've been the member of a very small book club on and off for a couple of years.

Our most successful book club meeting occurred after we had read The Book Of Negroes. I think it was because we had a list of questions at the back of the book which were meant for book club discussions. Since we're reading The Navigator of New York, by Wayne Johnston for this week's book club, I searched the internet to find similar questions to guide our discussion on Thursday.

There wasn't much out there, so I ended up making up my own questions and I'm posting them here to share with my fellow book club members and the rest of the world.

1. What role does the city of New York play? It goes through so many changes, can it be seen as one of the characters of the novel?

2. There are many letters written throughout this book and they are used in interesting ways. How do the letters contribute to the story?

3. As this is a novel and not a play, do you feel that there was an overuse of dialog?

4. Devline Stead was uneducated man from St. John's, yet never made a misstep and spoke like an educated man from a young age. What do you think contributed to this?

5. Johnston's depiction of Robert Peary was rather scathing. He is the villain of the story?

6. Devlin becomes an orphan three times; once at his choosing and twice not. If he hadn't met Kristine, what would have become of him?

7. What do you like about historical fiction? What don’t you like?

8. At the end of the 1800's, the novel makes it seem that a person's reputation was very important. How important is reputation now?

9. Dr. Cook revealed things piecemeal to Devlin in his letters piecemeal, with sometimes months in between. Today, we can get frustrated when emails take an hour to arrive. Do you think people were more patient back then?

10. Why does Devlin agree to be brought to the pole without the ability to navigate, read the instruments, or understand the route they are to take?

11. Why is the book called The Navigator of New York?

12. Do you find there is a good use of humour in the book?

13. Several times, especially at the beginning of the book, one of the characters explains that there are 'no words to describe' something. Do you think this was an effective device?

14. The role of women in the late 1800's was much different than it is now. Why do you think the wife of Peary accompanied him to Greenland?


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