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The Falling Nun

The Falling Nun

And Other Stories

  • reading group guide
In this collection of twelve dazzling and sensual stories, Pamela Rafael Berkman explores the perplexities of contemporary life through the eyes of women searching for love, truth, and faith. In the title story, a group of coworkers who order miniature plastic nuns rumored to bring love suffer surprising and disheartening consequences. In "Tat," the heroine gets an elaborate Victorian valentine tattooed on her arm and learns the real meaning of wearing her heart on her sleeve. And in "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown," the classic holiday program brings temporary peace to a troubled young woman. Throughout, miracles and revelations abound, appearing in the most unexpected places -- a planetarium on a college campus, a yuppie Christmas party, a silversmith's booth at an outdoor fair, a corner bar on Halloween. In capturing the dilemmas and difficulties of our times, Berkman brings to life the eternal longings of the human heart.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 176 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743230193 | 
  • February 2003
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Reading Group Guide

A Touchstone Reading Group Guide
The Falling Nun
1. In "Tat," Liberty has a religious experience of sorts during her time in the tattoo parlor, and gets a glimpse of a universe where "it seems to her that everyone she knows is so full of love and suffering, so very full, that it overflows into wounds." What is it about getting her tattoo that leaves Liberty feeling so at peace? How does Jack, in his role as a guide, help Liberty experience this feeling?
2. "She moved toward him, and away from him, and toward him, and away from him, and in going toward him she was also going away from him, and maybe he was doing the same." This description of the dynamic between Elizabeth and Vinnie in "Gold Glitter," while specifically sexual in this instance, could easily describe the dynamic between other characters in this collection as well, as they constantly test the boundaries and either shy away from or take risks with their interpersonal relationships. In what ways is this quote representative of larger issues? Keeping this hot/cold, push/pull dynamic in mind, do you think honesty or commitment is possible for the people in these stories?
3. In a sense, it seems that Ronnie in "Veronica" is actively trying not to believe, chanting what almost seems like a prayer in and of itself: "I don't believe, I don't believe." Do you think Ronnie is a believer? Is there any resolution to the girl's struggle by the end of the story? Do you think Sister Veronica's see more

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