1. The word “reverberation” means “an extended or continuing effect resulting from an action or event”. Beginning with the two shots fired at Squire Holt, there are a number of instances in Reverberation, The Novel, where actions precipitate subsequent actions and/or consequences. Which do you consider the most important to plot and character development?

 2. Abuse of power by religious father figures, slanderous political campaigning, abortion, torture, and racial discrimination are touched on in the book. These same subjects are extensively covered by our news media today. What are the similarities and/or differences between events in Reverberation and those which are happening now?

3. Inheritance. The word itself conjures up material goods and wealth, social standing, DNA, personality traits, and a slew of other good and bad built-ins. Inheritance can also be the panacea for the need, or greed, for money. How does the prospect of an inheritance motivate members of the Hicks family? Would the schism between Maris and his sisters have occurred if Richard Holt hadn’t testified to the existence of a deathbed will? Are all of the Hicks siblings dysfunctional and, if so, how? Was the family, as a unit, already in crisis before the death of Jacob Hicks?

4. Which do you think came first: Thaddeus Goodenough’s radical religious ideas or his sexual activities? Can you accept any of his proselytizations? If so, how would they change your way of life?

5. The utopian socialist communities of the nineteenth century were reborn in the second half of the twentieth century with the establishment of hippie communes. Using Pleasant Valley Farm as an example, do you think the utopian and hippie communes shared similar roots, philosophies, standards, structures, etc.? How were they the same; how did they differ? Were they lifestyle advocates or protest groups?

6. The presidential contest between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson is the first in which political parties play a major role. How does the 1828 campaign compare with the current presidential race? Which do you think plays a larger role in determining the outcome of an election: the exaggerations, untruths and rumors of the candidates’ representatives or the candidates’ avowed stands on the issues? Are you in favor of campaign reform and what are your suggestions?

7. How does James Daunt impact the lives of each of Jacob Hicks’ four daughters?

8. The American Colonization Society supported the settlement of free blacks in the colony of Liberia. Why would these men and women choose to uproot themselves and their families and move to an unknown, primitive land? Do you think similar repatriation efforts would help to solve our country’s current illegal immigrant problem?

9. The forms of torture described in Reverberation The Novel were actually used as psychiatric therapies in the early nineteenth century. Is the horror of torture less when it is employed as a medical “cure” or in a religious ritual than when it is used as punishment or for information-gathering? Can you think of any contemporary medical treatments which can be described as torture? How do you feel about the Guantanamo Bay waterboarding controversy?

10. Do you equate Thaddeus’ initiation of Sally with the abusive behavior of religious father figures which is being revealed today? Do you think Sally’s resulting promiscuity is an understandable aftereffect of the violation by a trusted adult? Does Sally’s anticipation of Thaddeus’s initiation make the preacher’s act any less perverse?

11. Under certain circumstances, James, Sally and Conshy Joe minimalize their innate intelligence. What are their reasons? Do Sally and James seek to avoid responsibility for their actions by hiding behind carefree façades?

12. Sally goes first to an Indian shaman then to an herbalist when she seeks to abort James’ baby. Can you sympathize with women who turn to untrained abortionists for help with unwanted pregnancies? Some women bond with their babies at the time they become aware of their pregnancies, other women never form that bond. Do you think the latter situation is due to circumstances or the nature of the mother-to-be? Do you think abortion should be the political issue it is today?

13. The Last of the Mohicans is an adventure story set during the time of the French and Indian wars. James does not discuss the battles or the escapades in the wilderness rather, he is interested in the lesser theme of the attraction between the quadroon, Cora, and the pure-blooded Native American, Uncas. Do you think his interest was triggered by his unconventional love affair with Sally or by his new awareness of racial inequality gained from Reverend Montague’s lecture? How do you feel about the attraction between Cora and Uncas? Would you feel differently if the fair-skinned Alice had caught Uncas’ eye?

14. Why does Sally choose to return to Pleasant Valley Farm instead of joining James in his new life? Why does she decide to join Lucy MacDougal? What would early suffragettes think about the lifestyle, appearance and behavior of today’s women? In your opinion, have things “gone too far” or not far enough?

15. How did Sally’s interactions with other characters change after she entered into a monogamous relationship with James?

16. Recently, there has been discussion about the merits of civil versus martial trials for prisoners of war. In three cases mentioned in Reverberation, General Jackson chose to court martial civilians (two British citizens and one Louisiana senator). Do you feel civilians, be they American citizens or foreign born, should be tried in a military court? In general, how do you feel about the rights of those accused of crimes against the United States?

17. Do you think a convicted white murderer and a runaway black slave will find financial success as international traders working in primitive Liberia and antebellum Virginia?


Paperback and ebook available at

Website Builder