Reading guide for The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Lake of Dead Languages

by Carol Goodman

The Lake of Dead Languages
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2002, 390 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2003, 413 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Given the trauma she endured there, why does Jane return to the Heart Lake School for Girls? Do you judge her options to be as limited as she does? Are there other factors at work in her decision?

  2. Jane acknowledges: "I had thought it was all right to marry someone I didn't love, but what I hadn't counted on was how it felt to share someone I loved with someone I didn't." Discuss the nature of Jane and Mitch's marriage and the impact Olivia's birth had on it.

  3. How does motherhood change Jane's life?

  4. Discuss Jane's socioeconomic background and its impact on her. Would you agree or disagree that class mobility in the United States takes a toll that is not always acknowledged or discussed?

  5. How does Jane's image of herself correspond (or not) with how others perceive her?

  6. Lucy's aunt has a very different perspective on Lucy that contrasts sharply with Jane's worshipful remembrance. Do you think Jane is finally able to see Lucy in a more complicated light by the end of the novel? Why or why not?

  7. How would you describe Lucy and how do you understand her actions?

  8. Lucy had a magnetism that drew people to her, inspiring conflict and jealousy within her circle. Have you ever had such a friend or been such a friend?

  9. Discuss the particular intensity of adolescent friendships and the havoc they can wreak as well as the benefits.

  10. Do you think tragedy might have been averted if Lucy had been able to tell Matt the "something that changes everything," which Helen Chambers shared with her?

  11. Matt's aunt refers to Jane as "Mattie's girl." What do you think was the true nature of Matt's feelings toward Jane?

  12. Discuss the merits and drawbacks of the popular theories, ascribed to by school psychologist Candace Lockhart in this novel, about the crisis of confidence experienced by adolescent girls and its effects.

  13. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of single- sex versus coed schools. Which educational setting do you prefer and why?

  14. Why do Jane's students decide to "go easy on her"? What does she think? What do you think?

  15. Do you consider Jane a good teacher? What qualities constitute a good teacher?

  16. What do you think of Helen Chambers's behavior toward her students, particularly her attitude toward and decisions regarding Lucy? Was the school's decision to fire Chambers justified? Do you think this decision was based solely on her sexual orientation?

  17. Discuss the many secrets finally brought to light in this novel and the corrosive and destructive impact secrets can have on those keeping them and those from whom information is withheld.

  18. Jane has lived under a cloud of guilt and remorse since her senior year at Heart Lake. She wonders "if there's any end to this cycle of guilt and retribution." Do you think the truth will set her free?

  19. Jane is haunted by a past that has severely compromised her ability to live in the present. Discuss how people can become trapped by the past and how to make peace with it.

  20. What shape do you imagine Jane's life will take after the end of this novel? Do you think she will leave Heart Lake? Should she?

  21. Do you think the Heart Lake School will survive its most recent scandal?

  22. There are many mysteries to be solved over the course of this novel. How do you read mysteries? Are you content to go along for the ride or determined to unravel the mysteries before the author reveals them? If you are the latter kind of reader, did the author stump you or did you figure out what was going on in advance?

  23. Discuss the structure of this novel as it shifts between the present and the past.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Ballantine Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: How to Set a Fire and Why
    How to Set a Fire and Why
    by Jesse Ball
    Lucia Stanton, Jesse Ball's precocious teenage narrator, lives in a converted garage with her ...
  • Book Jacket
    Stalin's Daughter
    by Rosemary Sullivan
    "There is something fatal about my life. You can't regret your fate, though I do regret my ...
  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Falling
    by Jane Green

    "Readers who enjoy a love story with heart will adore this tale of homecoming and transformation." - LJ

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!