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The Rainy Season — Book Club Notes

  1.  Why does Ella choose to proceed with her trip to Vietnam alone when she is clearly devastated by Tim's leaving? What does she hope to discover there?
     
  2.  Vietnam is in a state of chaos and change, not dissimilar to Ella's internal state. How do the two intersect and how is Ella changed by being in this environment?
     
  3. Ella is befriended by hotel receptionist Hien and small businessman Hugh. What do all three characters share and how do they affect one another?
     
  4.  Ella goes through a process of self-annihilation before she is able to start rebuilding her life. Why does she behave this way? Did you sympathise with her plight?
     
  5.  Echoes of war and loss are felt throughout the novel. What does the novel say about Australia's treatment of Vietnam Vets? How does the past impact upon the present in this story and also how does the present alter perceptions of the past?
     
  6. There is a strong emphasis on food in The Rainy Season; what do you think it represents?
     
  7. Ella had an isolated childhood with her alcoholic mother and has a great fear of being alone and yet she sabotages her relationship with Ariel. What does Ella need to learn in order to open herself up to love again? What happens to Ella at the nunnery?
     
  8. Ella's mother withheld information from her ostensibly in order to protect her. Do you sympathise with the difficulties Ella's mother faced and the choices she made?
     
  9. The father in the story is a shadowy character who is both absent and all-important. What changes during the novel in Ella's feelings about him and how important is it to the story that she actually find him?
     
  10. Many adult children of Vietnam Vets, such as Ella and Hugh, are drawn to 'go back' to Vietnam. What does this say about the long reach of war and what role might the second generation play in healing old wounds?