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Reading guide for One Night Two Souls Went Walking by Ellen Cooney

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One Night Two Souls Went Walking

by Ellen Cooney

One Night Two Souls Went Walking by Ellen   Cooney X
One Night Two Souls Went Walking by Ellen   Cooney
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    Nov 2020, 216 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Do you have a favorite character or patient? Which one, and why? What made them feel real to you?
  2. How do you respond to the chaplain's relationships with Plummy and Green Man? What role do you think they play in the chaplain's work, and in the story?
  3. The chaplain talks often of "doing her job," and she also frequently references her patients' occupations. Why do you think this is? What do you think the novel says about people, their work, and how they do it?
  4. Although the chaplain is not a medical doctor, the work she does is understood as a crucial form of care. Patients and their loved ones depend on her companionship and wisdom nearly as much as the scientific and technical work of the medical staff that saves physical lives. Why is this type of care so essential, and where do you see the chaplain proving that her work is necessary? What does spiritual or emotional care look like for you?
  5. Reason and spirituality coexist in this novel, though they are often treated as opposites. Instead of being disappointed when the explanation for an unusual circumstance is simple coincidence, the chaplain understands that even in those coincidences, revelatory possibility exists. What moments of striking coincidence were meaningful to you in this book? How does the chaplain's perspective on spirituality and coincidence resonate with yours?
  6. The chaplain holds deep reverence for the differences in beliefs between each person whose bedside she visits. These patients' versions of what heaven or the afterlife look like are each unique to their own experiences. Which of these versions were memorable to you, and what details made them so? What does an afterlife look like if you imagine it for yourself?
  7. In a moment of desperation as she sits with an elderly man in distress, the chaplain asks herself, "How can a soul speak to another soul?" Connecting with others without relying on words is a talent of the chaplain's, and part of what makes her work so essential. Where did you notice these moments of connection without language? Have you ever experienced a sense of shared feeling with a stranger?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Coffee House Press. 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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