Reading guide for Water, Carry Me by Thomas Moran

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Water, Carry Me

A Love Story

by Thomas Moran

Water, Carry Me by Thomas Moran X
Water, Carry Me by Thomas Moran
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2000, 269 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2001, 270 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Introduction

From award-winning author Thomas Moran comes the breathtaking story of a young woman's betrayal, a haunting portrait of the extraordinary beauty and inexorable violence of a divided Ireland.

Thomas Moran made his impressive literary debut only three years ago with The Man in the Box, winner of the Book-of-the-Month Club's Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction. The New Yorker compared The Man in the Box to the diary of Anne Frank, and the Los Angeles Times compared Thomas Moran to Elie Wiesel. On the heels of this success came what Booklist predicted would be "for many. . .the best book of the year." The World I Made for Her confirmed the depth and breadth of Moran's talent. "Now, to A Farewell to Arms and The English Patient," Time magazine harkened, "add another memorable star-crossed Red Cross romance."

And now, in what will surely be his most acclaimed novel yet, Tom Moran's spare, piercing language effortlessly carries us to the harbor towns of southern Ireland. Una Moss is a bright, young medical student struggling for independence from the world of her family's secret loyalties. Aidan Ferrel is the man who wins her love, the stranger she chooses to trust. Water Carry Me is the story of a singular love pitted against the power of political passion—the chronicle of a young woman's journey from innocence to betrayal, across the vivid brightness and darkness that is the heartbreaking landscape of her beloved Ireland.


Discussion Questions
  1. Una was told as a child that her parents died in a car accident. Over the years, she learned the truth: that they were killed by IRA terrorists. How do the ways in which Una's friends and her grandfather speak about her parents' involvement in the violence in Northern Ireland offer insight into the way many Irish people feel about The Troubles?

  2. The violence in Northern Ireland affects the lives of Moran's characters in the "sunny south," both directly and indirectly. How impervious are Una and her friends to the violence, on an emotional level and on a practical level?

  3. When Des and Mick are captured by the "Specials" from Dublin, Rawney's behavior changes distinctly. Is his paranoia justified? What does this fear foreshadow for Una's future?

  4. Una's overcoming her fear of the sea also marks, on some level, the end of her innocence. In what way might the title of the novel also be a metaphor for Una's attitude towards the less fortuitous events of her life?

  5. When Des is murdered, Una's survival instinct kicks in, and she sets out to make his death appear to be an accident. Why, then, do you think she goes to all of her friends and family, Aidan included, to gather information about the mysterious Colm O'Fearghail despite being warned against it? Do you think Una has cause to fear for her safety?

  6. Why do you think Una, despite the intelligence and savvy with which she conducts all other areas of her life, is so easily fooled by Aidan? Is it simply because of her love for him or is there another possible explanation?

  7. At the end of the novel, Una finds herself a victim of the tumultuous political climate of Ireland. In what way is Aidan also a victim of time and place? Do you think Aidan had a choice in making Una carry the semtex? Do you sense he hoped he could make it his last act -- the thing that might allow him to break free of his ties to the IRA and marry the woman he loves?

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Book Club Report

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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