Touchstone Reading Group Guide Nectar from a Stone
1. In Chapter 1, Elise wonders if her servant's, Annora's, stories about spiders are true: that "to their webs spiders entice fallen souls who only appear to poor human eyes as trapped moths or mites, before herding them to Purgatory." But, she recalls, Annora also said the "creeping things were a blessing in the house, because they could miraculously absorb the poisonous Pestilence vapor, bind it to the spots on their backs." What stories have you heard about spiders? What is the significance of the spiders in this book?
2. What kind of tone does the opening chapter set? How did the author maintain that feeling throughout the novel?
3. Why does Jane Guill choose Elise and Gwydion as her main characters? In what ways do these two people reflect their time period, social standing, and cultural norms? In what ways do they defy them? When they first meet, it seems Elise and Gwydion are repelled by each other. Yet they grow to love each other deeply. What do you think Elise and Gwydion have in common? What about them is very different?
4. The medieval church approved doctrine that established woman as the bearer of Original Sin. How do you think this affected the household dynamic between husbands and their wives? Do you think we are still feeling the effects today? How did the Church's stance touch the lives of the men and women in Nectar from a Stone?
Compare some of the marriages a