Elena and I want to welcome you to the very first BT Book Club discussion…Hello everybody…boy…you’re all looking really good today I must say. *Scans the crowd* Huh…I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many high heels…and argyle choices…socks, skirts, handbags, umbrellas, scarves…Whoa! You guys rock.
Discussion questions Chapters 1-8
1) In the first chapter, Julia’s dream can be seen as a foreshadowing of what’s to come. What do you think about it? And were there any other moments where you sensed something dreadful was going to happen?
Elena: I love it when books involve some foreshadowing, it makes the story very intriguing in my opinion, especially when you go on with the reading waiting to see if you guessed right or not. I have to say that when I read Julia’s dream, I didn’t immediately think of it as a possible foreshadowing. I mostly thought Julia had dreamed about being left alone in the orchard, because of her insecurity and the fear Gabriel could leave her at some point. And I understand that fear of hers, since the first night she spent with Gabriel in the orchard, the first time she met him, she woke up alone and she was deeply affected by that event. Sometimes our deepest fears reveal themselves in dreams and boy, do I have those kind of dreams… *shudders* Only when all hell broke loose did I think again of the dream and the light bulb lit. Yeah, sometimes I can be a bit slow *giggles* So, as far as I’m concerned I didn’t recognize it immediately, but when I was at about halfway through the book, I went and re-read the dream and yes, I could totally see it as a foreshadowing. I have to say kudos to SR, because it’s not always easy to include them in the story without making them too obvious, but SR was able to write it in a way that it wasn’t obvious at all to me. As far as other moments were concerned, I kind of feared Paulina and Christa were going to be a real pain in the ass, especially when Gabriel’s phone kept ringing( I found the Big Ben ringtone really fitting, btw) and when it was said that Christa was going to put her third scheme into motion… Seriously, I wanted to slap her and I’m not a violent person at all… What do you think about it, Tamie?
Tamie: I didn’t necessarily pay much attention to the dream the first time I read it, but what I did notice and felt very uneasy about was how many times that the topic of leaving/ being left/ abandoned came up in the first 8 chapters. Both Gabriel and Julia either thought it or talked about it on at least 6 different occasions. I definitely knew something bad was going to happen when Professor Pacciani emailed his “former student and lover”. As a side note…isn’t it interesting that Christa has this past with a Professor and was trying to repeat the experience with Gabriel?
Elena: Yes, it’s very interesting. It’s as if she finds Professors to be the most eligible of preys, if you know what I mean…
Tamie: Well I totally get her attraction both in general and specifically relating to Gabriel. Who doesn’t love an educated man after all, and Holy Crap! If you don’t have the hots for Gabriel…well…that thought just has no meaning in my universe, but…Christa goes to the extreme. She’s such a predator.
Elena: Exactly, Tamie. Well said.
2) The sharing/providing of food seems so significant and intimate for Gabriel? Why do you think that is? Does sharing/providing food have any special significance to you?
Tamie: I love the many ways that Gabriel wants to take care of Julia. Every time cranberry juice was mentioned I either smiled or laughed. Way to go Gabriel As for the sharing of food…it made me think back to “Gabriel’s Inferno” when Julia admitted she’d been hungry and Gabriel was horrified by the thought. I find it very swoonworthy that he wants to provide for her, and food is just one of the ways he does that. Sharing food can also be such an intimate and sensual experience between lovers…the different tastes, textures, scents can all combine to really enhance a romantic or sexual encounter. I’m completely on board with Gabriel and I sharing some meals. Sharing is caring…
Elena: In every scene where Gabriel shares food with Julia, my heart starts beating a bit faster…Those scenes are very sensual and I love the way SR writes them. I believe it’s significant for Gabriel, because firstly, sharing food with your beloved is a very sensual experience in itself, where you’re kind of satisfying your beloved’s most basic need. And of course it can become great foreplay…I remember in “Gabriel’s Inferno” Gabriel saying that if he was attentive to Julia’s need for food, he could show how he was willing to satisfy her other needs… I find sharing food with your beloved to be very intimate, I wouldn’t have any objection to sharing food with Gabriel…
3) There’s a scene in the book where Gabriel expresses his love for Julia through art. What is your relationship with art( in general, not necessarily paintings) ? Have you ever used a picture, a painting or other pieces of art to show your feelings to someone? // Would you use it as a means of showing your feelings to your beloved?
Elena: I found that scene in the book to be very romantic. The way Gabriel dedicated the whole lecture to Julia and the little gestures he did to let her know that it was her he was talking about while he mentioned the paintings. I have a soft spot for art, I love going to exhibitions and I’m very interested in the different meanings each one of us can give to a same painting. I usually don’t use pictures or paintings to express my feelings though, I mostly do it with music, which is a kind of art
Tamie: I found it to be romantic as well Elena. I think that using art to express your feelings for someone you love is a wonderful idea. Think about the time and thought that goes into such expression. After my mom and I returned from our trip to France, I had a CD made using our photographs set to music. When I gave it to her as a gift she said it was one of the best presents she ever got. She’s able to relive all the wonderful memories over and over. I’ve also given gifts of poems, scrapbooks, photo albums, etc. I don’t know if those count as art, but I guess it’s the same thought. O…you know what else I love? Sculptures…not sure why I just brought that up. LOL! Anyway, I would absolutely use art to show my affection.
4) Tell us your thoughts on the Professor’s lecture.
Elena: One word? OUTSTANDING. I loved everything about it. All the references to art were beautiful and I loved what Gabriel said about the four loves and now I’m looking forward to reading C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves, like The Professor suggested . To me, this part of the book was very educational since I learned a lot by it and this is one of the things I love about these books–not only do you read about a beautiful love story but you also learn new and interesting things.
Tamie: I have to agree Elena. I too learned a lot from the Professor during the lecture. I have studied the four loves previously, so it was nice to see them explained in such a meaningful way. I also adored learning about the different art that the Professor referenced. I was familiar with some but not all of them, so I looked them up. Um…no…in case you’re wondering…I did not Wiki them I think it’s terrific that SR includes valuable lessons interwoven with such a captivating love story. It’s just one more gift that people are given when they read his books.
Elena: *whispers* I used to Wiki some things, but I’m not doing it anymore *scout’shonor* Lol
5) Museum Sex…discuss
Tamie: I have to admit that I never really thought about or considered it…until I read Gabriel’s Inferno, and after reading that scene after the lecture in Gabriel’s Rapture?!? Now when I visit a museum the thought kind of lurks somewhere in my brain. Is HE here?!? Might I run into HIM?!? I can tell you that while I was visiting the ROM I was scoping out all the alcoves, and looking at dark spaces with a bit of a different eye.
Elena: Me too, Tamie. Everytime I’m in a museum or at an exhibition I can’t help but think of The Professor and maybe
stalk look for him in darkened corridors You know, he might want to tango after all…coughWallcough
Tamie: Elena, I am so on board with the thought of a “tango” with Gabriel coughWallSexIsAwesomecough
6) In chapter 6 Gabriel says to Julia that he won’t let her sacrifice her dreams for him. If you were Julia, would you have had something to say to him about it? What do you think of the connection between love and sacrifice?
Elena: I get why Gabriel doesn’t want Julia to sacrifice her dreams for him. We never want our beloved to sacrifice something of himself for us, especially when there can be a compromise. That being said, I also believe that in every relationship inevitably we sacrifice something for love, and sometimes our love is most greatly expressed when we show that our beloved is far more important than anything else. I think it depends on the nature of the relationship between two people and how much we are willing to sacrifice…
Tamie: While I understand Gabriel’s motivations for wanting to make sacrifices for Julia, and even think it can be quite noble and honorable to do so, I gotta say that I don’t think it’s fair to make that kind of decision on your own when it affects the person you love. When you’re in a committed relationship those kind of things need to be agreed upon. I think in any relationship, especially those that are long-term there will always be sacrifices and compromises. It’s how you deal with those that either make or break you as a couple.
7) In chapter 7 we get to know more about Christa’s back story. What was your reaction to it?
Tamie: I was so glad that SR included this. I found it fascinating to get a glimpse into what makes Christa tick. I was also delighted by the flashback to the Starbucks scene in GI.
Elena: I agree. I liked reading about Christa’s backstory and getting to know more about the reasons why she acts like that. The flashback scene was brilliant.
8) In chapter 8 we meet Paulina for the first time. What was the first thing that came to your mind when she appeared? Did you like the way Gabriel dealt with the whole situation or do you think he needed to do something different? What was your take on Julia’s reaction to Paulina?
Elena: It was a total surprise factor to me, I didn’t see it coming, or rather, I didn’t think she could come to such great lengths. Clearly, I had underestimated what she could do. From that moment I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride. On one hand, I wasn’t completely pleased with how Gabriel reacted but on the other I must admit it was a difficult situation to deal with. As far as Julia’s reaction goes, I think she did what she felt most appropriate at the moment, she had a really hard day, after her confrontation with Natalie, and seeing Paulina there was the last straw. Sometimes we just don’t have the energy to deal with so much in just one day and kind of retreat. But I think this whole situation made Gabriel and Julia closer, the exact opposite of what Paulina wanted to achieve by appearing in Richard’s house.
Tamie: My first reaction was OMG! We’re in big trouble now. This was one of many times I wanted to leap into the story and kick some ass. I wasn’t at all pleased with how Gabriel dealt with the situation. Yeah…it’d be apt to say that I was pretty pissed at him during this whole scene. A part of me would’ve liked to have seen Julia take a different approach as well. I guess I wanted her to stand up to Paulina, but at the same time I can see how you might just want to run away and escape from the whole ugly ordeal. I’d probably be completely intimidated by someone like Paulina.
9) What was your favorite sentence, paragraph, and scene in these chapters?
Tamie: Ok…I’m completely useless at picking just one…so I’m not even going to try. I floved the very 1st sentence, and I remember thinking…WoW! Now that’s the way to start off your book SR. “Professor Gabriel Emerson was sitting in bed, naked, reading La Nazione, the Florentine newspaper.” O…and I love “The air was thick with the smell of orange blossoms and Aramis, mingled with the musk of sweat and naked flesh.” One more because it was so surprising to me, “You never treated me like a guest when you were in my mouth,” Paulina muttered, eyes flashing.
favorite paragraph: He moved, bringing his chest to hers, kneeling in between her legs so he could press their hips together. “You don’t see the comparison between you and her? This is my water.” He pressed himself against her again. “You are my water. Making love with you is all I need to quench my thirst. Why would I throw this away for water from the ocean?”
favorite scene: After the lecture, and the Starbuck’s flashback.
Elena : favorite sentence : ” You’re the only one who has ever been my lover in the true sense.”
favorite paragraph: “In her twenty-three years, Julia hadn’t realized how pervasive grace was and how Gabriel, who considered himself to be a very great sinner, could be a conduit of that grace. This was part of the divine comedy– God’s sense of humor undergirding the inner workings of the universe. Sinners participated in the redemption of other sinners; faith, hope and charity triumphed over disbelief, despair, and hatred, while the One who called all creatures to Himself watched and smiled.
favorite scene: The shower scene. Very touching.
And Tamie, that visual is just *THUD* And if we add David Gandy to that??? *DOUBLE THUD*
10) SR injects great humor into the story. Do you have any particular favorites that highlight this in the first 8 chapters?
Elena: I love SR’s humor. One of my favorites occurs on page 16.
Tamie: The humor that SR uses over and over again is just brilliant. It pops up at the most unexpected times. Here are just a couple of my faves- on page 11. “The financial woes of Europe came readily to mind.” and on page 13 “Beside them, Julia’s coffee and milk grew stone cold and sullen at being ignored.” I could go on and on…
That brings us to our next segment…
As promised here are SR’s answers to three of the questions that were asked…O…I get it now…that’s why you’re all looking so good…Hey…I heard that and ok I deserved a big, huge “Well duh Tamie”…so now let’s turn it over to SR…
It was interesting to read Christa’s story, and the flashback in Starbucks. Were you hoping to solicit any specific feelings from your readers towards her by including them? As the author what’s your take on Christa?
Gabriel usually comes off as so confident, yet we see in the scene with Julia after the lecture that he has insecurities where she is concerned. “What do I have to do to make you mine?” he groaned, mouth against mouth. Why does he doubt her feelings? What reason does he have to feel insecure about her?
I think the explanation here is psychological. You have to imagine that you were abandoned as a child and then adopted into a loving family in which you always felt like an outsider. Add to that years of shame and guilt for past wrongs. He wants to be happy but he believes that he doesn’t deserve happiness. Julia makes him happy, but he doesn’t believe that he deserves her or ultimately, that he’ll be able to keep her.
Thanks very much for your questions and I look forward to answering more questions next time.
We’ve shared our answers to the discussion questions, and now it’s your turn. Go on…we can’t wait to see what you have to say. O, and one more thing…don’t feel like you have to answer every q to participate.
Tamie and Elena
P.S. Help yourself to refreshments…in honor of our guest we have Kicking Horse coffee (the Kick Ass variety), apple pie, and chocolate cake