Reading guide for The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

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

The Women in the Castle

by Jessica Shattuck

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck X
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2017, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2018, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Did anything surprise you about conditions in post-war Germany?  Did you learn anything new from the novel?
  2. How did each woman's past influence how they reacted to the rise of Nazi Germany? Did Marianne's privilege make it easier for her to be an active resister? Why was Benita dazzled by the Nazi's pageantry? How did Ania's childhood influence her feelings toward Hitler?  
  3. Did you identify more with one women than the others?  Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?
  4. Marianne insisted the children look at gruesome billboards showing conditions in the death camps and bearing the caption, These shameful acts: Your guilt.What do you think of her determination that the children be aware of the worst of their country's actions?  Do you think she was right or wrong not to shelter the children?
  5. Do you think the three women would have been friends if not for the war? While the war brought these women into each other's lives, do you think it's ultimately what bound them together, or were there other factors?
  6. How do you think the events of the war and its aftermath shaped each of the women and their perceptions of themselves?
  7. If Ania had been more honest about her past and Benita been more open about her love for Herr Muller, how do you think Marianne would have reacted?
  8. Before the war began, Marianne was charged with being "the Commander of Wives and Children." Do you think she upheld her duty? A passionate and deeply moral woman, Marianne was certain she always did the right thing. Do you think she did? Was she a good protector and friend to Benita and Ania?
  9. What drew Benita to Connie? Do you think she loved him? What were her true feelings for Herr Muller?  Should Herr Muller have defied Marianne and married Benita?
  10. How did Benita's beauty both help and hurt her? How did reading Connie's final letter influence the tragic choice she makes? Why do you think Benita felt that love, for her generation, was dead?
  11. Do you think Ania was like most ordinary Germans of the period? Do you think she was right, later in life, to be ashamed for her actions during the war?  How do you think you would have reacted in her place?
  12. Do you think it's possible to put our past behind us and create a new beginning for ourselves?  Are there dangers in remembering the past, or in clinging to it? Are there dangers in forgetting the past? 
  13. According to Martin, "Americans can face the world with open arms, Marianne had once said, because the world hasn't yet come to knock it down." Do you think this is true?  Do you think it's ever been true in America's history?
  14. Ania thinks to herself that people have children "even when they believe the world is going to hell, even when life is nothing but uncertainty" in hopes of someday being understood.  Do you agree?
  15. At the end of the war, each woman was in a different place, physically and emotionally. What do you think of the choices they were forced to make to survive?
  16. How do you think the novel challenges our perceptions and notions of Germans during and after the war?
  17. Do you think women like Marianne, Benita, and Ania were victims, or do you feel they bear responsibility for Hitler's rise to power and consequently their own plights, post-war? How accountable are individuals for their leaders? What about resisters like Marianne and her circle? Why do you think she saw the true monster that Hitler was when many others did not?
  18. Do you find The Women in the Castle holds insight for our own time? 

Copyright BookBrowse 2018

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of William Morrow. 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Operation Valkyrie

Join & Save $10!

Discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten. One-year membership: $29

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    One Night Two Souls Went Walking
    by Ellen Cooney
    In One Night Two Souls Went Walking, we follow a young interfaith chaplain as she carries out her ...
  • Book Jacket: Truthtelling
    Truthtelling
    by Lynne Schwartz
    The word "unsayable" can mean something is too vast to be put into words. Alternatively, it can ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book Collectors
    The Book Collectors
    by Delphine Minoui
    About halfway through The Book Collectors, I was disappointed. I came into the book with a ...
  • Book Jacket: Blue Sky Kingdom
    Blue Sky Kingdom
    by Bruce Kirkby
    Who hasn't dreamed of escaping all of the trappings of today's modern life and finding a secluded, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls
    by Ursula Hegi

    Set on a German island in 1878, perfect for fans of Water for Elephants.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline
The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

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.