Robin Maxwell's articles @ Huffington Post
Signora da Vinci JANE Augie Appleby

1) The role that families played in arranging marriages in fifteenth century Italy - indeed, in most of the civilized world - was enormous. Children had little or no say in the husband or wife chosen for them. Does is surprise you to know the practice continues even today? In what regions of the world and at what levels of society do you imagine this still happens?

2) Lady Diana Spenser was carefully chosen to be the virgin bride of England's Prince Charles. Discuss how you think theirs being an arranged marriage led to the tragic end of Princess Di.

3) Did your parents had anything to do with the choice of any of your spouses, lovers or significant others. Did the level of their influence change as you got older?

4) Did you ever openly defy your parents in choosing a lover or spouse? What was the result?

5) Did you ever forego a love relationship because of parental disapproval? Did you regret it, or did it turn out for the best?

6) Were you familiar with the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, before reading O, Juliet? Many people know of him as the author of The Divine Comedy, The Inferno, but were you aware that he and his Beatrice are considered one of Medieval history's great pairs of lovers?

7) Did you enjoy Dante's writing and poetry about love from Vita Nuova (A New Life ) quoted in O, Juliet?

8) Did it ring true to you that Juliet and Romeo would connect so strongly via poetry? Have you ever experienced a love connection that was enhanced by a shared interest?

9) What qualities made Romeo the perfect lover? What were the most attractive characteristics of Juliet's personality to Romeo? What are the traits in a person that make you fall the most deeply in love with him or her?

10) In fifteenth century Italy, even friendships between women were constrained and limited, as girls and even married matrons were kept behind closed doors most of their lives. Do you imagine that two young women like Juliet and Lucrezia could sustain a friendship that close and intimate under such conditions? How important did you feel that relationship was to the telling of the story?

11) Were you aware of the importance of the Medici family - particularly Don Cosimo - in the genesis of the Renaissance? Did you find yourself thinking what a fortunate woman Lucrezia Tornabuoni was to be marrying into such a family?

12) Everyone knows how this story ends. Did you find yourself wishing that the author had allowed one or both of the lovers to live?

13) Do you believe Lucrezia should have been able to talk Juliet out of taking her own life?

14) If you had been Juliet, would you have chosen to commit suicide?

15) Despite Romeo's and Juliet's deaths, was the ending of O, Juliet satisfying to you as a reader?
Signora da Vinci JANE Augie Appleby NEW! ATLANTOS
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