Thank you for choosing In Love and War for your book club. Here are some discussion points you may like to use.
How do you think the act of writing this book (including all the researching, interviewing, compiling, reflecting) has assisted the author in shifting the way she felt – and feels – about the Guinea Pigs?
What were the greatest difficulties or obstacles the returned airmen had to face following their injury?
Why do you think faces and the cues they give us are so important to humans as social beings?
What can we learn from this book about judging a person by how they look? Is it possible to avoid this?
Do you think that McIndoe placed his nurses in a compromising situation in asking them to ‘do their bit for the war’? Did they have a choice in obeying him?
What do you think the personal toll on the nurses may have been in this work environment?
What kind of person (patient and nurse) would be best equipped to deal with the QVH environment? Which would be the most vulnerable?
What do you think of McIndoe’s approach to rehabilitation?
Was McIndoe’s hospital a product of its time? Could such a social experiment be conducted nowadays?
What support do we have now for those returning injured from war? What support do we have for those nursing them?
Why is it so difficult for Liz Byrski to begin to write this book? What is it about the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote (p. 202) that gives her clarity she needs to begin to write: He wanted to care, and he could not care. For he had gone away and he could never go back anymore. The gates were closed, the sun was down, and there was no beauty left but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of youth, of illusion, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished.
What role does Liz’s friend Evelyn play in this story? What is her importance to the narrator?
How is it possible to feel strongly and instantly connected to a stranger, as the author is with Dennis Neale (chapter 11)?
In what ways do people rely on each other for an innate sense of well-being? In what ways does this book demonstrate the importance of community?
Is this a story that could have been written earlier, say at a time that was much closer to the post-war period? How much time do you think needs to elapse before we can reflect on big events and begin to understand what they mean?
How can this story from the Second World War assist our understanding of the world in which we live today?
You can also download these discussion points along with some other information on the Fremantle Arts Press website here. I do hope you enjoy your discussion.