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BOOK LOVE: Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth by Alice Walker

The forces of nature and the strength of the human spirit inspire the poems in Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth. Alice Walker opens us to feeling and understanding, with poems that cover a broad spectrum of emotions. With profound artistry, Walker searches for, discovers, and declares the fundamental beauty of existence, as she explores what it means to experience life fully, to learn from it, and to grow both as an individual and as part of a greater spiritual community. (www.randomhouse.com)

My love for Alice Walker’s writing began back in 1995 when I wrote about The Colour Purple as part of my dissertation. It remains one of my favourite books of all time. I came across this 2004 publication more recently. I was in the library, supposedly working on my own book, but instead I spent the morning devouring these poems.

I loved the whole book, but would particularly recommend: ‘Coming Back from Seeing Your People’; ‘What Will Save Us’; ‘Thanksgiving’; ‘(Yours and Mine) Is Obsolete’; and ‘You Too Can Look, Smell, Dress, Act This Way’.

I’m in awe of the way Alice Walker can convey panoramic landscapes of emotion within just a few words. She shines an unerring light on the subtle corners of living, revealing that what we consider unimportant might be far more significant than it first appears. Most of all, I love the fact that despite her unflinching consideration of pain and suffering, I always walk away from her writing feeling uplifted.

NB: To read an extract from this book, click here.

Pages

Beneath the Shadows

Book Group Questions for Beneath the Shadows

1. The past is still too close to us… How does the past infiltrate and affect the present in Beneath the Shadows?

2. Grace is driven by her need for resolution: did you see this as an obstacle or a necessity for her?

3. Ghosts, omens, clocks that stop and start by themselves – is there a supernatural element in Roseby, or was it all just a figment of Grace’s imagination?

4. Windows and reflections are strong symbols in the novel. How do you interpret their significance?

5. Not only is Grace reading Rebecca, but throughout the book the classic novel is alluded to in others ways too. Consider these parallels, and what they contribute to the story.

6. By the end, the mystery of Adam’s disappearance is resolved. Yet Adam didn’t tell Grace where he’d put their money, his relationship with Jenny, or the existence of the cellar. How much do you think the reader gets to know the ‘real’ Adam?

7. How did you interpret Grace’s strange dreams? Were they warnings, her subconscious trying to process her fears, or something else?

8. How important is Annabel to the story? What role does she play?

9. Is Meredith a villain or a victim?

10. By going through their belongings and their memories, Grace seems to be trying to understand who Adam’s grandparents were. How far can she succeed, do you think? And why is this so important to her?