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The Song Collector - Discussion Questions

Grief

As the novel starts, Fox is lost in grief. Much of the book is about his journey back from grief. Did you find it a realistic portrayal of grief? Do you think that ultimately Fox finds a way to enjoy life after Edie? Do you think this part of the novel is hopeful?

Age and Aging

Fox is not only growing old, but he has the uncanny sense that he's outlived his era. How did you feel about the portrayal of creativity in old age? Fox is clear that he believes he's written some of his best work in his 70s.

Do you think this is unusual? So much in the media now is about the cult of youth with writers and artists of all kinds becoming younger and younger. 

Child Prodigies

What did you think of Robin and his extra-ordinary talents? Has anyone in your book group encountered a child prodigy? Do you feel the strains that Robin's gifts placed on the wider family were believable? Could you understand Clara's jealousy that her son seemed closer to his grandfather than to herself?

What did you think of the contrast between Fox's late blooming and Robin's early talent? Which would you prefer to be? To create your best work at 70 or at 7? Or, is it more what the outside world thinks? 

Music and Landscape

Fox is clearly captivated by local folk songs. Did the connection between music and landscape inspire you? Are there songs you associate with a particular place? Do you believe Will Hodgkinson when he says that 'music has a regional accent'? Have you noticed that a song from Manchester sounds different from one in Somerset or Scotland?

Fox, Jack and Edie

Do you think that Jack ever forgives Fox for his betrayal? Do you? 

Narrative technique

The book is narrated by Fox as two different points in his life: one as an old man recently widowed and the other as a young man falling in love. Were you convinced that two strands were told by the same person at different stages? Although he's a different age, did he feel like the same man? 

Jewishness

Why do you think that Edie felt compelled to conceal, or not be open about her Jewishness? Could you understand this motivation?