Reading guide for A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks

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

A Possible Life

A Novel in Five Parts

by Sebastian Faulks

A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks X
A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2012, 304 pages

    Paperback:
    Nov 2013, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. How was Geoffrey changed after he returned home from the war? What accounted for this change? How was he changed in the very end of his story? What is meant by his feeling that a "rearrangement of particles had taken place within him?" Are we able to change the basic structure of who we are?

  2. Billy is able to change his circumstances and achieve success through sheer work and determination, yet life has a way of confounding some of his plans. He says, "the more I live, the less I seem to understand." How does his worldview evolve throughout his life? Is life something that can be fully grasped or understood at any single point in our lives?

  3. What do you think determines how and why we become the people that we do? Do you think that our lives are dictated by fate, or is it the choices we make that change the course of our lives? What are some examples from the lives in these five stories that support your belief?

  4. The stories in the novel connect across time and space, yet characters within each story grapple with a yearning for connection with others. Do you think that the events and circumstances of the time are what affect human condition and emotion? Or is this desire for companionship something that is innate within all of us, no matter the circumstances?

  5. In the story of Elena, Bruno speaks of his and Elena's differing approaches to life. He sees life as a mix between "the flame and the facts," in which the flame always comes first. Bruno is willing to live dual lives, with more than one love. Elena, on the other hand, wants a world in which each of us gets only one life—only one love. Explain how these two approaches are demonstrated in their relationship. Do you think that there are two types of people—the Elenas and the Brunos?

  6. Jeanne believed that Brother Bernard had the saving power of Jesus, yet she chooses to run away from him and her life at the monastery. Why does she turn back from the very thing she seems to be seeking? Do you think Jeanne was able to find what she was searching for in the end? Or did she find a life that was different yet as satisfying? Are we able to reclaim our lives once we turn away from a seemingly important path?

  7. What leads to Anya's breakdown? Why does she leave the United States when everything seems to be perfect in her career and romantic life? What do her songs represent to her? To Jack Wyatt? And what do they represent within this novel?

  8. The five narratives that make up this novel are interconnected to the stories that come before and after. What are the different details and/or thematic elements that flow between the stories? How effective are the stories in functioning as a complete work?

  9. What was your reaction to the ending of each story? Did you find that these stories ended on a hopeful note, or were you disappointed with the way things turned out? Sebastian Faulks has said that he is a romantic. How does his romanticism affect the outcomes in this book?

  10. The novel plays with the idea that each of the five stories contain possible lives that can transcend time, place, and character. Even within each life, there is the possibility of alternate lives. Do you think that there is one life that claims each person, or can anyone be the main character in a sequence of possible lives?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Picador. 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" articles
  • 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 $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    The Book Woman's Daughter
    by Kim Michele Richardson
    Kim Michele Richardson's The Book Woman's Daughter follows Honey Lovett, 16-year-old daughter of ...
  • Book Jacket: Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    by Clare Pooley
    For the many years that I've been reading, one realization has always come to mind for me after ...
  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Hamnet
by Maggie O'Farrell
"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously written that it transports you."
The Boston Globe

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden
    by Zhuqing Li

    A beautifully woven family memoir that coalesces into a vivid history of two very different Chinas.

  • Book Jacket

    Jackie & Me
    by Louis Bayard

    Master storyteller Louis Bayard delivers a surprising portrait of a young Jackie Kennedy as we've never seen her before.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.