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Jewel

Jewel

  • reading group guide
Jewel is the story of how quickly a life can change; how, like lightning, an unforeseen event can set us on a course without reason or compass.

In the backwoods of Mississippi, a land of honeysuckle and grapevine, Jewel and her husband, Leston, are truly blessed; they have five fine children. When Brenda Kay is born in 1943, Jewel gives thanks for a healthy baby, last-born and most welcome.

In this story of a woman's devotion to the child who is both her burden and God's singular way of smiling on her, Bret Lott has created a mother-daughter relationship of matchless intensity and beauty, and one of the finest, most indomitable heroines in contemporary American fiction.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671038182 | 
  • January 1999
List Price $16.00
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide
SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
  1. Jewel's mother referred to the stories of who Jewel was and where she came from as "stones in your pocket." What did she mean by this? What were Jewel's "stones" and how did they affect the course of her life?
  2. "I say unto you that the baby you be carrying be yo' hardship, be yo' test in this world. This by my prophesying unto you, Miss Jewel." These words of Cathedral not only carried great portent, but also haunted Jewel throughout her life. Discuss the various implications of Cathedral's prophecy.
  3. With this same statement, the author interjects a spiritual element to the story. Is it believable? Or does it seem to run counter to the tone of the rest of the book?
  4. When Jewel slaps Cathedral, it is a defining moment for them both. Besides expressing Jewel's blaming of Cathedral for Brenda Kay's accident, what else did this act signify? Was slapping Cathedral a slap at faith?
  5. Did Jewel's determination and action-oriented path to help Brenda Kay diminish her own religious faith?
  6. When Jewel returns to make amends with Cathedral, why does Cathedral reject her and offer no comfort? Why is Cathedral angry and unforgiving?
  7. Why did the author assign the names Jewel and Cathedral to these characters? Are we to find meaning in them? If so, what?
  8. Jewel's attitude toward blacks and her understanding of racial issues evolved
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