Book Club Questions


LAST DAUGHTER OF PRUSSIA – Book Club Questions

SPOILER ALERT:

Be SURE you've read the book before browsing these Book Club questions, which discuss numerous plot points and dramatic moments in the novel.

1.    The opening of The Last Daughter of Prussia makes clear that there is danger  surrounding the von Falken land in East Prussia. The German army is retreating and the Russian army is approaching. Why does Manya, the strikingly beautiful young daughter of the Baron and Baroness von Falken, continue to ride through the countryside on her beloved horse Aztec?  Do you think that her parents are naive to what is happening around them or indulgent of their daughter's independence?

2.    Many stories have been written about the atrocities of World War II. Why do you think that the story of the people of East Prussia has so rarely been told?

3.  Discuss the relationship between Manya and her mother. Do you think that the Baroness' depression led to Manya's love of nature, and in particular her love of horses and other animals? Does the unconditional love that Manya gives and gets in return from her horses make up for the disconnect in the relationship she has with her mother?

4.    The Baroness is a complex character. Discuss her relationship with Vavara the Romani woman. Vavara and the Baroness had a close relationship that crossed class lines, which was unheard of during this period of time. How do you think the Baroness reconciled this friendship in spite of her upbringing and class?

5.  Joshi and Manya's relationship drives the  story from beginning to end. Do you think it was the author's intent that Manya had a troubled relationship with her mother, and and that Joshi clearly was a disappointment to his father?  Did this lay the groundwork for the love and friendship that Manya and Joshi shared?

6.  Joshi and Manya's relationship drives the  story from beginning to end. Do you think it was the author's intent that Manya had a troubled relationship with her mother, and and that Joshi clearly was a disappointment to his father?  Did this lay the groundwork for the love and friendship that Manya and Joshi shared?

7.  When Joshi is captured by the Nazis, his fight for survival begins. He is reunited with his sister Sofia, his only surviving family member. The thought of Sofia and the dream of being reunited with Manya is his driving force for survival. Discuss the relationship Joshi endures with the female warden when he arrives at the work camp. The warden plays a twisted game with Joshi that puts him in a position to make choices that will haunt him. If placed in that same situation, do you think you would have done anything differently? Is it a fair question to ask one's self?

8.  When Manya's father finally decides to leave the estate in Guja to escape the Russian army, does the reader feel frustration for how long he's waited and the danger he has created for his family? Did you feel compassion for his difficult position?

9.    Once Manya is reunited with Joshi, the shame that Joshi feels is understandable, although confusing to Manya. How do you think Joshi is able to to come to a place of acceptance with what he has endured at the hands of the German soldiers and the love he has for a German woman?

10. When Manya, Joshi, and the remainder of their traveling party reaches their final destination, Manya and Joshi are given the opportunity to start a new life in the Bahamas, a place far away from their home. Does the reader feel that leaving Germany is the only option for Manya and Joshi?

11. The Trakehner horses played a significant part in the survival of Manya and her family. Discuss your feelings when Aztec was shot and Topsie was taken by the German army. Did you get a sense of healing when Shambhala's foal was born? Was this a sign that Manya and her family would survive the war?

12. The cover of the novel features a white Trakehner mare.  Why, if the black stallion Aztec plays such a pivotal role in the novel, is there a white horse on the cover?  Who is the last daughter of Prussia?


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