Reading guide for The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer

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

The Poet of Tolstoy Park

by Sonny Brewer

The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer X
The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2005, 272 pages
    Mar 2006, 288 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!

    This is a fictionalized account of a true story. How accurate do you think Brewer’s portrayal of Henry Stuart might be, and does this affect your enjoyment of the book?

  1. What qualities do you most admire in Henry, and what do you think we can learn from his story?

  2. What do you think cured Henry?

  3. After outliving his diagnosis, why do you think Henry chose not to return to his sons in Idaho?

  4. Does Henry Stuart remind you of anyone you know? Do you think a story like his could take place today?

  5. Brother O’Neil says: “Books and writing are agents for the accumulation of ideas and your minds are overfull.” What do you think of this statement, and what do you think of Henry’s strategy to quiet his “overfull” mind?

  6. Author Sonny Brewer is the editor of Stories from the Blue Moon Café, an anthology of Southern writing. What do you think makes a novel “Southern,” and do you consider The Poet of Tol­stoy Park a Southern novel?

  7. How would you characterize the female characters in this novel?

  8. Henry believed that “no work is wasted,” that work, philosophi­cally, is a means without regard to its end. What could be the value to a man of constructing a house of concrete if he might die before he finishes it?

  9. What do you think motivates Henry to go barefoot? What do you think of the statement, “If all the hobnail boots were put away, wars would end”?

  10. Do you think this book would make a good movie?

  11. Do you wish the author had written more romance into the re­lationship between Henry and Kate? Why or why not?

  12. What do you think is in the shoe box that Thomas gives Henry at the end of the book?

  13. An osprey appears to Henry when he falls down in the creek. What do you think the osprey symbolizes?

  14. What role did Black Elk play in Henry Stuart’s life?

  15. John Lennon sang “Imagine” with lyrics that imagined people living at peace in a world with “no religion too.” Do you agree that would be a good idea? Henry did not go to church, but did he have “religion”?

  16. When the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke exhorted readers to “be ahead of all parting” what did he mean, and how might this relate to The Poet of Tolstoy Park?

  17. At the end of the book, the author fast-forwards the nar­rative about twenty years. If you were going to write of those “missing” years of Henry Stuart, what would your favorite scene be?

  18. Robert Frost said, “Writing is as good as it is dramatic. Period.” Where’s the drama in The Poet of Tolstoy Park?

  19. How would you characterize the author’s writing style?

  20. If you could rename this book, what would you name it?

    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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Eat the Apple
    Eat the Apple
    by Matt Young
    Truth is stranger than fiction. Matt Young's memoir tackles the space in between truth and ...
  • Book Jacket: Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover had the kind of upbringing most of us can only imagine. She was the youngest of seven ...
  • Book Jacket: The Girls in the Picture
    The Girls in the Picture
    by Melanie Benjamin
    Melanie Benjamin's fine historical novel about the relationship between two women in the early ...
  • Book Jacket: The Driest Season
    The Driest Season
    by Meghan Kenny
    On a summer afternoon in 1943, an almost sixteen-year-old Cielle Jacobson walks into the family barn...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The House of Broken Angels
    by Luis Alberto Urrea

    The definitive Mexican-American immigrant story from an acclaimed storyteller.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Y L D W D, Y'll G U W Fleas

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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.