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Reading Groups

This page is for you!

 

I have had the opportunity to meet many, many readers over the past 20 years, both here in the USA and Internationally - at large book events, award events, and smaller, intimate book store settings.

I have found that Book groups  are filled with thoughtful and insightful readers who share a passion for reading and learning.  So, I wanted to create a page just for you! 

We plan to create Reading Guides for all of my books. This will be an ongoing project (as there are quite a few books) and we welcome your input. If you have read one of my books and/or participated in a book group and have a great question that you think other book groups would enjoy, please post a message in my guestbook (be sure to include your e-mail address when prompted).

Happy Reading!

 

Reading Guide for Daughter of the Sun

 

Reading Guide for The Blessing Stone

 

Reading Guide for Soul Flame

 

Reading Guide for Virgins of Paradise

 

Reading Guide for Rainbows On The Moon

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Daughter Of The Sun - Summary and Reading Guide Questions

 

In "Daughter of the Sun"  international best-selling author Barbara Wood turns her attention to a 900-year-old mystery.  Why did the Anasazi Indians of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico abruptly abandon a vast & flourishing  city filled with monumental architecture and ceremonial buildings?   

17-year-old Hoshi'tiwa, a gifted pottery maker, plans to marry a storyteller's apprentice.  Her plans are turned upside down when she is snatched by the fierce Toltec army and taken from her primitive village to "Center Place", an outpost of the Toltec empire.  Hoshi'tiwa  is assigned to the Potter's Guild where she distinguishes herself through her exotic and unusual pottery.  This leads to an elevated position and eventual entry into the court of the powerful and violent Toltec leader. Embroiled in a web of deceit, love, envy, murder and betrayal,  Hoshi'tiwa unwittingly becomes the catalyst for the eventual downfall of Center Place and what historians now call "The Abandonment."

  

Reading Guide Questions

1.  Historians and archaeologists still do not know why Chaco Canyon was abandoned.  The drought in DAUGHTER OF THE SUN is one theory.  Can you think of other reasons a people would pick up and abandon a thriving settlement, never to return?

2. The Toltecs and the People of the sun did not believe that anything happened by accident.  Everything is part of a great cosmic design and that we can read our fate in the stars.  Does this still leave room for free will?

3.  If you had access to a time machine and you could visit any period or event in the past – but only one – what would you choose, and why?

4. What is the significance of dreams?  Do they foretell the future?  Do they bring messages from the gods/God, as Lord Jak├íl believed?  Or are they merely the random misfirings of a sleepy brain?

5. What was the purpose of the Anasazi roads?  The people of Chaco Canyon did not have beasts of burden, they did not have the wheel.  Why, therefore, did they need wide, straight highways? 

6. White Orchid’s secret adoption.  Is bloodline so important?  Can love make up for the fact one is not related to the parent?  How important is it to know where one came from?

7. Hoshi’tiwa was willing to die for her beliefs.  Is there anything you would give your life for?  And how is self-sacrifice different from the human sacrifice described in the book?

8. The final battle in the book is sparked by a single act of defiance – a person from the crowd throws a rock.  A simple gesture producing profound consequences.  Can you think of a time in history when other such simple acts have had a powerful influence?

9. Hoshi’tiwa believes that nothing dies, that there is constant change in the universe.  When a person dies, he or she is not lost but joins the stars, the rocks, and all life.  What do you think?

10. Hoshi’tiwa’s mother tells her she “was born to a special purpose”.  Are we all born for a special purpose?  If we believe this, then how does this tie in with the belief in a cosmic Oneness, that all things are connected, that we are part of a universal design and that nothing happens by accident?

 Order  Daughter of the Sun for your reading group

 

 

 

 

 


  The Blessing Stone - Summary and Reading Guide Questions

 

 

Three million years ago, a meteorite plunged to earth in a cataclysmic collision, out of which emerged a beautiful blue stone.  One hundred thousand years ago, a girl named "Tall One" discovers the crystal on the African plain and finds her destiny after looking into the mysterious stone.

Thus begins the story of The Blessing Stone, an account of the ways in which the stone changes the lives and reveals the destinies of those it comes into contact with.  The history of the world unfolds as the stone is passed from generation to generation, and across 5 continents from the Jordan River Valley to ancient Israel, from Imperial Rome to Medieval England, from fifteenth-century Germany to the eighteenth-century Caribbean and finally to the pioneers of the American West. Wood's 19th novel is comprised of eight individual books linked by a common thread: The Blessing Stone.

Each story is set in a different country and period of time featuring Wood's trademark attention to historical detail.  This backdrop provides a compelling canvas on which are painted the lives of the book's characters as they search for truth, courage, solace and even revenge, aided they believe, by the mystical powers of a cosmic blessing stone.

 

Reading Guide Questions

Africa: 100,000 Years Ago

   1. The primitive humans described in Book 1 did not use a verbal language. How did they communicate with each other?
      Group Exercise: Choose two people and give one of them a question/command/statement to communicate to the other. Verbal language is not allowed : )
   2. As a primitive person, imagine how you would have viewed the Blessing Stone. What significance would you have placed on it? Where would you think it originated? (Tall One, for example, thought that it was a small pool of water.)
      

The Near East: 35,000 Years Ago

   1. The moon was believed to regulate a woman's menstrual cycle, and women held tremendous power within their tribes due to their ability to create life. Do women hold such power now? Is a mother's role greater than a father's?

The Jordan River Valley: 10,000 Years Ago

   1. Separation between rich and poor became evident. Trade and commerce gained in importance and families no longer lived in communal dwellings, opting instead to live with their own family group in separate dwellings.  People began to settle in specific geographic areas and no longer led nomadic lives. What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a society?
   2. The concept of conception was still a mystery and the idea of a father did not exist. A child's bloodline came from his or her mother. What freedoms did this give women? Compare this to present society where a child is automatically given his/her father's last name and a woman commonly takes her husband's name when she marries. Should children receive both names?
      

Rome: 64 C.E.

   1. In this story, negative connotations are associated with the blessing stone for the first time. Up until this point, what had the stone represented to its owners?
   2. This was a male dominated society where women had little power, privileges or rights.  Compare this society to the matriarchal societies described in earlier stories; was power shared equally between genders in these societies?
   3. Compare Amelia's infidelity to Cornelius' abandonment of his newborn child and the way in which society reacted to each situation.
      

England: 1022 C.E.

   1. To escape male dominance, one option was to become a nun. Was this truly an escape?
      

Germany: 1520 C.E.

   1. Katharina's quest to find the blessing stone, and through it her father, became an obsession. How did this affect the decisions she made? Can obsessions be positive?
      

The American West: 1848 C.E.

   1. In this story, Matthew depended on the blessing stone to make decisions, or did he? Did the blessing stone exhibit mystical or mysterious powers in the previous stories? What role did the blessing stone play in each persons life.
   2. Why do you suppose the book is called The Blessing Stone.  Can you suggest another title?

Order The Blessing Stone for your reading group

 

 

 

 

Soul Flame - Summary and Reading Guide Questions

 

 

Selene. She was gifted, brilliant, beautiful and dedicated to the healing arts. But in the ancient Roman World of the First Century, the idea of a woman as a physician was unthinkable -- until Selene dared to challenge and break all the taboos.

Soul Flame is the story of Selene's apprenticeship to her folk-healer mother ... of her relationship with a passionate man of healing .. and of her odyssey through the cities of the ancient world -- Antioch, Babylon, Jerusalem, and Rome -- through danger and intrigue, treachery and seduction ... as she followed the call of her desire and destiny as a woman and a doctor.

At the deepest heart of Selene's story is her quest to discover her true identity, for the woman named Mira, whom she thought was her mother, was in fact the midwife who delivered Selene one omen-filled night, as an aristocratic couple, pursued by Caesar's soldiers, sought refuge in Mira's humble house.

Mira believed the child was born of the gods.

  

Reading Group Questions

1. What was Selene’s childhood like?  How was it different from other children?

2. The book starts with a scene where Selene saves a man’s life.  Why was Selene's reaction to what happened different from the other observers? Why does she take responsibility for him?

3. How is Selene’s speech impediment cured?  What was the real medicine at play?

4. When Mera gets advice from the priestess regarding Selene, do you approve of her course of action when she went against what Selene wanted?

5. When Selene is captured and imprisoned with the other girls, how is her attitude different from theirs.  Is she a survivor?  Why?

6. What is Selene’s relationship to Wulf?  Would it have been different without Andres on her mind?

7. Why didn't she tell Wulf that she was pregnant?  Was it fair to him that she hid it?

8. What are the responsabilities that come as a result of having the Soul Flame gift?  How does this  mark Selene's life?

9. What is the archetype “Hero’s Journey” in mythology?  Does Selene’s life follow this model?

10. When does Selene find out her identity?  How does her life change when she reveals to the Emperor who she is?

11. What kind of childhood does Selene make for Ulrike?  Is she a good mother?

12. What is Ulrike’s identity?  Does her mixed heritage keep her confused about who she is and what she wants?

13. Why does Ulrike leave Rome?  Does she do so in a responsible way?

14. Imagine for a moment the course of Ulrike’s life now.  What do you think is going to happen to her?

15. What do you think is Selene’s greater purpose in her life?  Has she got a mission to accomplish?

16. Imagine a sequel to Soul Flame?  What happens to Selene for the next few years of her life?

17. Can you come up with an explanation for what the Soul Flame is?  Where does it come from?  How is it developed?  What responsabilities come with the gift?

Order your copy of Soul Flame

Order the sequel to Soul Flame,  THE DIVINING.

 

Virgins of Paradise - Summary and Reading Guide Questions

 
(image of The Blessing Stone by Barbara Wood)
Virgins of Paradise

 
"According to legend, there once lived a sect of holy men from Arabia who roamed the desert and countryside, completely naked. Wherever the men traveled, women flocked to them because it was believed that making love to the men, or even touching them, cured wives of barrenness and assured virgins of finding virile husbands."

"One day one of these holy men visited a palm grove on the outskirts of Cairo, where he blessed a hundred women in the course of just three days, after which he died. Witnesses declared that Allah's dark-eyed virgins, whom the Koran promises to Believers as their heavenly reward, came down from the sky and lifted the holy man up to Paradise.

"Four hundred years later, when the British, who were occupying Egypt, built their mansions in a newly created district in Cairo called Garden City, they decided to reclaim this legend by naming one small, crescent-shaped street Virgins of Paradise."

Virgins of Paradise is a saga about the women who are members of a wealthy, aristocratic family who resides in a beautiful mansion on Virgins of Paradise Street. Jasmine and Camelia Rasheed come of age amid the glamour and elegance of postwar Cairo, where women still wear the veil and live in harems. Under the watchful eyes of their grandmother and the other women in the prominent Rasheed family, Camelia and Jasmine grow up, and as Egypt begins to change, so do they.

Rebelling against a society in which the suppression of women is assumed, Jasmine and Camelia embark on turbulent personal and professional voyages of discovery: Jasmine, cast out of the family, goes to America to become a doctor, while Camelia sets out to become one of the foremost dancers in the Middle East.

Sensuous, spicy, suspenseful, romantic, Virgins of Paradise is a spellbinding novel set in an exotic and erotic culture. The story of a family in search of identity amid historic change, it also conveys a portrait of an ancient nation, mired in superstition, magic, and mythology, as it emerges into the modern era.

 

Reading Guide Questions

1. Did reading this book alter your view of Islam and Muslims, or people in the Arab world in general?  If so, in what ways? What surprised, delighted or offended you about the Islamic tradition?

2. Do you think women are treated fairly in the patriarchal world of Islam?  In the Western view, Muslim women are oppressed.  But in the Muslim mind, the women are honored and protected.  Which do you agree with?

3. Do you think you could live in a harem, pampered, protected from the world, spending your days bathing in perfumed baths and dancing the exotic belly dance?  Or would you die of boredom and lack of purpose/direction in your life?

4. Muslims call themselves the People of the Book.  They revere Moses and Old Testament prophets.  They revere Jesus as a prophet.  And they believe that Mohammed was God’s final prophet, making Islam the supposed final chapter in the Bible.  What do you think?

5. Has reading Virgins of Paradise inspired you to visit the Middle East?

6. Do you think you would like to try some of the recipes that are mentioned in the book?

7. Virgins of Paradise deals with the themes of obedience and rebellion.  When is obedience more important than rebellion, and vice versa?  Do you think it is easier to be rebellious in Western countries than in the Middle East?  Why?

8. The women in this book are strong – Amira, Alice, Camelia and Jasmine.  What makes women strong?

9. Ritual figures prominently in this book.  Why is ritual so important in our lives?  Can you name one or two that are important to you, and why?

10.  Jasmine was banished by her father when he discovers that she is raped.  How did the women in her family react to this?  Is the father justified at all?

11.  There are many family secrets in Virgins of Paradise.  Can this hurt or help a family?  Is it good to uncover secrets?  What are the ramifications for the Rasheeds?  Do you have family secrets in your own family?  Are they still a secret?

12. If you had read this book shortly after the events of September 11th, would this story have helped you in your understanding of Islamic culture?

 Order your Copy of Virgins of Paradise

 

 

Rainbows On The Moon - Summary and Reading Guide Questions

 

 

(image of Rainbows on the moon by Barbara Wood)
Serpent & the Staff

“I was born for adventure. I flout convention. I am a New Woman on a holy purpose.” Newlywed Emily Stone and her husband, Isaac, are young missionaries who have traveled from New England to Honolulu to share the Gospel with the Hawaiian natives. Gentle, adventurous, well-bred, and beautiful, Emily soon finds herself struggling with intense homesickness but remains determined to share her faith . . . and ignore her growing feelings for handsome Captain MacKenzie Farrow. Just as she begins to bond with the influential High Chiefess Pua and her daughter, Mahina, unexpected tragedy threatens to force her off the island. In a state of confusion, Emily makes a decision that could destroy everything she knows and loves—including her own sanity.

Three decades later, Sister Theresa comes to the islands as a missionary nurse and becomes acquainted with Captain Farrow’s charming son, a powerful man who is instrumental in Hawaii’s alliance with America. Teresa discovers that a dark curse is plaguing his family and the island’s inhabitants, a curse that only Emily and Mahina can help her reverse. With richly imagined characters and spellbinding scenery in the tradition of James A. Michener’s Hawaii, Rainbows on the Moon is a masterful depiction of the beauty of human emotion.

 

Reading Guide Questions

1. White missionaries went to Hawai’i with good intentions.  Do you think they succeeded in doing good, or do you think they did harm to the Hawai’ian people and their culture?


2. The missionaries believed that in order for the Hawai’ians to accept Christianity, it was necessary that pagan rituals such as the hula be outlawed.  Do you agree, or do you think that a person can convert to a new belief and continue to carry on the old traditions?  Or is this contradictory?


3. Hawai’ians believe in the power of the spoken word, that words can cure a person or even kill him.  How would you explain this?


4. How do you feel about the isolation of the lepers?  Could this have been handled better and in a more humane way, or were the 19th century doctors doing the best they could with their limited knowledge?


5. Would you build a house near an active volcano?  What do you think of people who do?


6. There is a feeling today among some Hawai’ians that their kingdom was stolen from them, and they are demanding the restoration of their sovereignty.  Should Hawai’i be allowed to secede from the United States and set itself up as a monarchy again?  Why, or why not?


7. No one knows why the first Hawai’ians left their distant home of Tahiti centuries ago, carrying all their worldly goods in canoes over thousands of miles of ocean, toward an unknown destination.  Can you come up with a theory for why they did this?


8. Hawai’ians believe that the ritual of ho’oponopono cures illness by airing family problems and bringing about peace among the members.  Do you believe this?  If so, is theresomething in your family that you would like ho’oponopono to cure or fix?


9. Do you think Theresa should have been forced to stay in the sisterhood even though she spoke her vows to God for other than religious reasons?

Order Your Copy of Rainbows On The Moon

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Sep 04, 2017

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Audio: The Serpent & the Staff


Jun 13, 2017

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Copyright © 2007 by Barbara Wood. All rights reserved.