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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "East of the Sun" by Júlia Gregson

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"East of the Sun" by Júlia Gregson

  1. Character Exploration:

    • Analyze the three main characters, Viva, Rose, and Victoria. How do their personalities, backgrounds, and motivations shape their individual journeys throughout the novel?
    • Discuss the evolution of the friendship between Viva, Rose, and Victoria. How do their relationships with each other change over the course of the story, and what challenges do they face together?
    • Explore the character of Guy Trent, the love interest of Viva and Rose. How does his presence affect the dynamics between the three women, and what role does he play in their lives?
  2. Themes and Motifs:

    • Discuss the theme of female friendship in "East of the Sun." How do Viva, Rose, and Victoria support and empower each other, especially in the face of adversity and uncertainty during wartime?
    • Analyze the motif of travel and adventure. How does the journey aboard the MV Victoria reflect the characters' personal journeys of self-discovery and growth?
    • Explore the theme of love and romance in the novel. How do the romantic relationships between the characters, including Viva and Rose's relationships with Guy, contribute to their individual arcs and the overall narrative?
  3. Historical Context:

    • Explore the historical setting of the novel, particularly the portrayal of World War II and its impact on the characters' lives. How does the war shape their experiences and decisions, both at home and abroad?
    • Discuss the depiction of British colonial society in India during the 1940s. How do issues of class, race, and privilege influence the characters' interactions and experiences in this setting?
  4. Narrative Techniques:

    • Discuss the novel's narrative structure, which alternates between the perspectives of Viva, Rose, and Victoria. How does this multi-perspective approach enhance the reader's understanding of the characters and their interconnected stories?
    • Analyze Julia Gregson's use of descriptive language and imagery to evoke the settings of England and India. How do these settings contribute to the atmosphere and mood of the novel?
  5. Social and Ethical Questions:

    • Explore the theme of identity and belonging in the novel. How do the characters navigate questions of cultural identity, particularly Viva and Rose as British women living in colonial India?
    • Discuss the ethical dilemmas faced by the characters, particularly in relation to issues of love, loyalty, and sacrifice. How do they reconcile their personal desires with their sense of duty and responsibility?
  6. Reader Response and Interpretation:

    • Reflect on your emotional response to the novel. What aspects of the story resonated with you, and why?
    • Consider the novel's ending and the characters' fates. Did the resolution of the story meet your expectations, or were you surprised by the outcome?

Júlia Gregson is a British author known for her historical fiction novels and travel writing. Here's a brief biography of her:

  1. Early Life and Education: Júlia Gregson was born in 1947 in Monmouth, Wales, United Kingdom.

  2. Career Beginnings: Before becoming a full-time writer, Júlia Gregson worked as a journalist, feature writer, and editor for publications such as the Sunday Times, Good Housekeeping, and Rolling Stone magazine.

  3. Literary Career: Júlia Gregson gained recognition as a novelist with her debut novel, "The Water Horse," published in 1996. She continued to write fiction, with several of her novels focusing on historical settings and themes.

    Some of her notable works include:

    • "The Water Horse" (1996)
    • "East of the Sun" (2008): A historical novel set in India during World War II, exploring themes of friendship and love.
    • "Jasmine Nights" (2012): A novel set in post-World War II Egypt, blending romance and adventure against the backdrop of political unrest.
    • "Monsoon Summer" (2013): A novel set in colonial India during the 1930s, following the lives of three women with intertwining destinies.
  4. Travel Writing: In addition to her fiction writing, Júlia Gregson has also authored travel books, including "Along the Enchanted Way" (2008), which recounts her experiences traveling through Eastern Europe.

  5. Recognition: Júlia Gregson's novels have received praise for their evocative settings, rich characterizations, and compelling storytelling. Her works have garnered a dedicated readership and critical acclaim.

  6. Personal Life: Not much is publicly known about Júlia Gregson's personal life, as she tends to keep her private life separate from her professional career.

  7. Legacy: Júlia Gregson is regarded as a talented and versatile writer known for her ability to transport readers to different time periods and settings through her vivid storytelling. Her novels and travel writing continue to entertain and inspire readers around the world.


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