The Sealwoman’s Gift: book group questions

Tomorrow our Book Group are meeting to discuss The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson. I couldn’t find any book group questions out there so I’ve created some of my own. They are:

  1. Did it alter the way you feel about this book to know it is taken from a true story? Does it matter that most of it is made up? Do you think Sally Magnusson did a good job filling in the gaps/speaking for the women whose history is seldom told?
  2. What was Iceland like in the 17th century? What did the author make alive for you? (All the details are there: dark smoke-filled hovels reeking of fulmar oil used for the lamps, with a sheep’s uterus strung across a window to keep out the wind. A fire fuelled by puffin bones, a housewife stirring a greasy mutton stew, or softening the head of a cod in whey.)
  3. What did you think of the relationship between Asta and Cilleby? Both are changed by the other. She is his property and must never forget it. What might have happened if it had continued?
  4. What did you think of the other women who embrace (perhaps some more enthusiastically than others) their new culture? What would you have done? Could you become Muslim to lose the status of slave?
  5. What was the importance of story telling in the book?
  6. Did Asta want to go home?
  7. Do you think Asta was a good mother? Could you have left your children behind?
  8. How did she feel about her own land when she got back?
  9. Did the book make you think of today’s refugee crisis? What parallels did you find?

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