Reading guide for The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber

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The Book of Air and Shadows

A Novel

by Michael Gruber

The Book of Air and Shadows
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 480 pages
    Mar 2008, 496 pages

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

About This Book

Jake Mishkin is an intellectual property lawyer with a fabulously wealthy ex-wife, a brother who's a convict turned Jesuit priest, and a weakness for beautiful women. Albert Crosetti is an aspiring film-maker with a weakness for one woman in particular. Together, as they both search for a lost treasure, they form one of the more unlikely teams in recent memory. But The Book of Air and Shadows is so much more than a riveting novel of suspense. Michael Gruber has been called "masterful" (Cleveland Plain Dealer), "Superior" (Seattle Times) and The Washington Post says that Michael's books are "miracles of intelligent fiction . . . among the essential novels of recent years." In this book, Gruber creates an utterly believable, historically accurate portrait of William Shakespeare, as fully realized a character as the contemporary Jake Mishkin and Albert Crosetti.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is your view of Jake Mishkin's character? Do his personality and profession aid in the search or are they more of a hindrance? Do his flaws make him more likeable?
  2. Albert Crosetti's life is currently on hold when he becomes involved in the mystery. He's saving up to go to film school and living with his mother. Does his stasis make him more susceptible to Carolyn's deception?
  3. The Bracegirdle letters create an incredible sense of time and place with richly textured language and thoughtful details. Discuss some of the most vivid images and their importance to the story and to your own experience reading it.
  4. What parallels do you see between Jake and Albert? Between Albert and Bracegirdle?
  5. How do religious affiliations play an important part in both the past and the modern-day storylines?
  6. Comedy and tragedy are both evident in The Book of Air and Shadows. How do they play off and heighten each other in the narrative?
  7. There are numerous correlations between The Book of Air and Shadows and Shakespeare's The Tempest. How many can you find? Harmony through balance is one of the key themes of The Tempest. Discuss how that theme is relevant to the various characters in The Book of Air and Shadows.
  8. Travel and moving beyond one's normal, everyday experience, both physically and psychologically, occur many times in the story. How do you think that affects each character's development?
  9. Throughout recent history, there have been rumors about lost Shakespeare plays. What do you think would happen if a new Shakespeare play were discovered? Would the quality of the writing be as important as the fact that it was by Shakespeare?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of HarperPaperbacks. 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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