Updated: Mar 7, 2019
FIrst, thank you for choosing HER CAPRICE for your book club! It gives me a nice, happy glow to think that this novel is being discussed over a plate full of potluck appetizers, warm carbohydrates or that clamshell of chocolate chip cookies from Costco. (I am a classy lady.)
Here are some questions to get your discussion moving:
1. Which character did you relate to the most? Who do you want to be best friends with? Who caused you to have the strongest reaction--good or bad?
2. What are Beatrice's flaws (traits that are the fault of the character but can be changed or overcome) and what are her handicaps (problems that cannot be changed by her and which are imposed upon her by the plot)? How does resolving some of her flaws make her better equipped to deal with some of the handicaps?
3. How are Beatrice's magical powers reflective of her own central obstacle? How are her powers an echo of Lord Fox's desires?
4. I grew up in a family with ten siblings who had a wide array of special needs. (We, legit, had a handicapped parking space painted on the road in front of our house for the busses that came each morning.) I am also the mother of children who have IEPs, physical and speech therapists and tutors. One of my main inspriations for the conflict between Beatrice and her mother was the challenge many parents (especially parents with children who have special needs) struggle with: How can I protect and advocate for my child while making sure I don't turn them into a problem to be managed? How can I navigate the line between doing my best for them and doing too much for them?
What struck you as you read Mama's character? Why is learning when and how to let children make their own mistakes such a universal challenge? How is learning to stand on your own feet as a child also so universally challenging?
5. Deborah, Beatrice's older sister, is going to have to be told about Beatrice's powers. How do you imagine that conversation going down? Will it change the relationship between the sisters? How will she feel knowing such an important family secret was kept from her, particularly when the risk of her children rising exists?
6. If Lord Fox had managed to get Beatrice to France, how might he have used her? What problems would he have had?
7. Why is Henry going to be such a good fit for Beatrice? What challenges do you foresee them having?
8. I paid close attention to Brandon Sanderson's Laws of Magic when constructing this world. One of those laws states that limitations are more interesting than powers:
If I were to ask you about Superman’s magic, you’d probably talk about his ability to fly, his super strength, the lasers he can shoot from his eyes. You may go from there to his invincibility and perhaps some of his lesser (and more inconsistent) powers. But if we stick with those four, we’ve got a pretty strong setup for what Superman is capable of doing.
However, is this what makes Superman interesting?
I’d put forth that it is not. There are lots of people with magic powers who can fly and who are invincible. There are a lot of strong, fast, or smart people. What makes Superman interesting, then? Two things: his code of ethics and his weakness to kryptonite.
Think about it for a moment. Why can Superman fly? Well, because that’s what he does. Why is he strong? Comic book aficionados might go into him drawing power from the sun, but in the end, we don’t really care why he’s strong. He just is.
But why is he weak to kryptonite? If you ask the common person with some familiarity with Superman, they’ll tell you it’s because kryptonite–this glowing green rock–is a shard from his homeworld, which was destroyed. The kryptonite draws you into the story, gets into who Superman is and where he comes from. Likewise, if you ask about his code of ethics–what he won’t do, rather than what he can do–we’ll go into talking about his family, how he was raised. We’ll talk about how Ma and Pa Kent instilled solid values into their adopted son, and how they taught him to use his strength not to kill, but to protect.
Superman is not his powers. Superman is his weaknesses.
How did knowing that Beatrice's powers have limitations pay off when she was kidnapped by Lord Fox and then again when she rescues Henry?
9. Will Penny learn to fly? What challenges will Mama have with her raising?