MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

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The Ensemble

by Aja Gabel

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel X
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2018, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2019, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

Questions and Topics for Discussion

  1. How did the personal dynamics of the ensemble play out through their performances?
  2. How do you think the characters approach ambition and creativity?
  3. Who was your favorite character and why? Who was your least favorite? All of the characters pair up at some point and have their own scene together—which was your favorite pairing?
  4. Do you think this novel is a love story (echoing the opening section), and in what ways?
  5. What were the strengths and weaknesses in having each character's voice present in the narrative? What does that reveal? What gets in the way? Was one character more forthcoming than the others? Was there one who you kept wishing you could stay with?
  6. Did a knowledge of classical music enhance your reading experience? Or was it not necessary? (Did you look up the songs as you read?)
  7. Was anything surprising to you about the life of working musicians? How was it different or expected than what you previously thought?
  8. What did you think of Kimiko having her own chapter?
  9. Each of the characters creates a family in some way. Discuss.
  10. How do you think the writing reflects musical quality and structure, if at all?
  11. Passion is a theme that runs throughout the novel—how do you see that manifesting?
  12. Discuss the ways that parenthood is portrayed throughout the novel.


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

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