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Amaryllis in Blueberry

Amaryllis in Blueberry

  • reading group guide
In the tradition of Sue Monk Kidd and Julia Glass comes a stirring and soulful novel about an American woman accused of murdering her husband in Africa and the series of events that led her to that point, compellingly told via the alternating perspectives of her four teenage daughters.
Christina Meldrum has already won praise from critics and fans with her young adult novel Madapple, which was an ALA Best Book for Young Readers in 2009 and earned starred reviews across the board. Now, in Amaryllis in Blueberry, her first adult novel, she tells the gripping story of the seemingly ordinary Slepy family—who fled their Midwestern town to do missionary work in a small village Africa. Meldrum has been an aid worker in Africa, bringing an authenticity to this richly atmospheric novel which explores many universal themes including family, religion, and culture.
Meet Dick, his wife Seena, and their four daughters, each named Mary: Mary Catherine, Mary Grace, Mary Tessa, and their youngest Amaryllis (aMARYillis). Seena has felt unloved and unvalued most of her adult life, so she escapes into her books, particularly Greek mythology, to satisfy her desire to find meaning. Her life has been built on secrets and lies and she wants to protect her daughters from the truth she knows will destroy their happy home. Mary Catherine seems to be the strong, faithful one, who in deference to St. Catherine, cuts off all of her hair, but she’s also a lost soul who desperately needs love and attention. Mary Grace is the eldest and the most beautiful—the one who easily seduces but is also easily seduced, especially when she’s faced with an exotic and fascinating culture so unlike her own. Mary Tessa is the inquisitive one who claims to be the most reliable when it comes to the facts of her mother’s case, and then there’s Amaryllis, who was born with an extrasensory gift of seeing things other can’t see, of knowing when bad things are about to happen, and of telling when those who profess to know the truth are the biggest liars of them all….
Opening with the dramatic scene of Seena on trial for murdering her husband Dick, this engrossing and lyrical novel flashes back to the year before her family left for missionary work in Africa—and how the buried secrets of their past came back to haunt and heal them all.
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  • Gallery Books | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439195369 | 
  • February 2011
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List Price $10.93
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Sense the world through the heroine of AMARYLLIS IN BLUEBERRY

A novel about an American woman accused of killing her husband in Africa told through the perspectives of her four teenaged daughters.

Read an Excerpt

THE END

West Africa

Dick is dead. Seena knows this, of course: her husband is dead. Yet she keeps expecting him to barrel in, his enormous, gangling self plodding along, a spectacle unaware that he is one. Was one, she thinks. Was one. Still, she finds herself waiting for him to call out, make some pointless point, make it clear to everyone that he just doesn’t get it. She anticipates the annoyance she so often would feel around him. She almost longs for it—this longing he’d disappear, shut up, let her be. Because he has disappeared, shut up, let her be. He is... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Amaryllis in Blueberry includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Jenny Christina Meldrum. 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.

INTRODUCTION

In a West African village, Seena Slepy stands trial for the murder of her husband, Dick, a doctor who brought his family from their home in the United States to do humanitarian work. How Seena got to this crossroads, with her fate hanging in the balance, is told in a series of flashbacks. Richly atmospheric, Amaryllis in Blueberry is a stirring, soulful novel about the intricacies of human relationships and the haunting nature of secrecy.

TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. Amaryllis in Blueberry is told from the viewpoints of Seena, Dick, their four daughters, their neighbor Clara, and finally the priest Heimdall. How do the varied perspectives affect you as a reader? The final chapter is the only one told from Heimdall Amadi’s perspective. Why do you suppose the author chose to give him the last word?

2. Consider how truth and reality are portrayed in the novel. What besides individual perspective contributes to each character’s view of truth and reali see more

More Books from this Author

Featuring favorite authors and thrilling debuts,Wanderlust: A Book Club Sampler, is the guide for finding your next book club read.
Read more about this book

About the Author

Christina Meldrum
Photograph by Lilac Chang Photography

Christina Meldrum

Christina Meldrum received her Bachelor of Arts in religious studies and political science from the University of Michigan. After working in grassroots development in Africa, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. She has worked for the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, Switzerland, and as a litigator at the law firm of Shearman & Sterling. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and is on the advisory board of Women of the World Investments.

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