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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "The Latecomers" by Helen Klein Ross

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

"The Latecomers" by Helen Klein Ross

  1. Family Dynamics: How does the structure of the Babcock family evolve over the course of the novel? Discuss the relationships between the various family members and the impact of family secrets on their interactions.

  2. Identity and Belonging: The novel explores the concept of identity through the lens of adoption and genealogy. How do characters like Peter and Julia grapple with questions of identity and belonging? How do their discoveries about their ancestry shape their sense of self?

  3. The Search for Truth: Both Julia and Peter embark on journeys to uncover the truth about their family history. How do their quests for truth differ, and what do they ultimately learn about themselves and their family?

  4. Memory and Legacy: Discuss the role of memory and legacy in shaping the Babcock family's history. How do past events and decisions reverberate through the generations, influencing the characters' present-day lives?

  5. The Setting: How does the setting of Cape Cod contribute to the atmosphere and themes of the novel? Discuss the significance of the physical landscape and its connection to the characters' emotional landscapes.

  6. Parenting and Parenthood: Explore the theme of parenting in "The Latecomers." How do characters like George and Julia navigate the challenges of parenthood, and how do their own experiences with family shape their parenting styles?

  7. Secrets and Lies: Secrets and lies play a significant role in the novel, affecting multiple generations of the Babcock family. Discuss the consequences of keeping secrets and the impact of revelation on the characters' relationships.

  8. Forgiveness and Redemption: How do characters in the novel grapple with forgiveness and redemption? Discuss the ways in which characters seek to reconcile their past mistakes and find redemption in the present.

  9. The Role of Art: Art and creativity are woven throughout the novel, particularly in the character of George as a photographer. How does art serve as a means of expression and healing for the characters, and what does it reveal about their inner lives?

  10. Cultural and Historical Context: The novel spans several decades, touching on significant historical events such as World War II and the Vietnam War. How does the historical context shape the characters' experiences and choices?

  11. The Meaning of Family: What does "family" mean to the characters in "The Latecomers"? How do they define and redefine family throughout the novel, and what does this exploration reveal about the nature of familial bonds?

  12. Closure and Resolution: Discuss the ending of the novel and whether you found it satisfying in terms of closure for the characters and their story arcs. Were there any loose ends you wished had been tied up differently?

Early Life and Education: Helen Klein Ross was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in English Literature and later earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Career in Advertising: Ross had a successful career in advertising, working as a copywriter and creative director for various agencies in New York City. She worked on advertising campaigns for major brands before transitioning to her career as a novelist and poet.

Literary Career: Helen Klein Ross is the author of several novels and poetry collections. She made her literary debut with the publication of "Making It: A Novel of Madison Avenue" in 2013, a novel inspired by her experiences in the advertising industry. The novel received praise for its insider perspective on the world of advertising and its exploration of ambition and identity.

She is also the author of "What Was Mine" (2016), a novel that explores the aftermath of a kidnapping from multiple perspectives, and "The Latecomers" (2018), a multi-generational family saga that delves into themes of identity and belonging.

In addition to her novels, Ross has published poetry in literary journals and anthologies. Her poetry collections include "Drift" (2018) and "Slash Pine Press" (2018).

Other Work: Ross has also written essays and articles for various publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. She is known for her insightful commentary on topics ranging from literature to culture and advertising.

Personal Life: Helen Klein Ross resides in New York City. In addition to her writing career, she is also an advocate for literacy and has been involved in various literary organizations and initiatives.

Helen Klein Ross's work is characterized by its lyrical prose, insightful exploration of complex themes, and keen observation of human behavior. She continues to write and contribute to the literary community through her novels, poetry, and essays.


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