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The Marriage of the Sea



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About The Author

Jane Alison

Jane Alison is the author of The Love-Artist. She lives in Germany.

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Reading Group Gold

Reading Group Guide Questions

1. How does opening scene with Oswaldo set up the novel’s main themes concerning time and place?

How important is location and atmosphere to the story? Why? Which descriptive passages about

location did you find the most affecting and evocative?

2. “If you want nothing,” Oswaldo observes on page 134. “You do not want to live.” Discuss the

thematic connection between life and “wanting” as represented by the characters of Max, Lach,

Anton, Lucinde and Josephine.

3. Would you describe Marriage of the Sea as a realistic novel? How does Alison use magical and

fantastical elements throughout the story?

4. Which character in the novel did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least? Explain.

5. Do you see any connection between some of the characters professions and their personalities?

Explain.

6. Did the course of the relationships in the novel turn out as you anticipated? Were you surprised by

any of characters’ decisions? Explain.

7. What past events haunt Lucinde, Anton and Max? How do those events respectively affect their

present? Discuss Alison’s allusive writing style in evoking these characters’ histories.

8. Discuss the significance of the title Marriage of the Sea. How does water figure into the story, both

literarily and metaphorically?

9. On page 249, Oswaldo thinks, “All the busyness and vainglorious fuss that we make, all for

nothing. A day will come when nothing is left and no one will see. Why bother?” What answer

does the novel pose to this question?

10. What do you make of the story’s ending? Were you overcome by a sense of despair or hope?

Explain.

11. If you could write another chapter for each of the characters, what would you envision happening?

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