As part of Bas Bleu’s 2017 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)
Happy New Year, bluestockings! With a fresh new year comes a fresh batch of Book a Month features, beginning with discussion questions about our January selection, Tisha. Editor AG recalls:
When one of our lovely customers wrote to recommend Tisha as one of her very favorite books, I was intrigued. I got a copy of the flimsy mass-market version (with a truly dated cover and tiny type) and was immediately transported to the remote Alaskan frontier with the indomitable—and immensely charming—Anne Hobbs as my guide. I can see why the “wonderful true love story of a young teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness” sold millions of copies after it was first published in 1976! I enjoyed the tale so much, Bas Bleu inquired with the publisher about producing our own version of the book—with bigger type, a nicer cover, and in a standard paperback size. We’re delighted to offer it as our first Bluestocking Book a Month selection for 2017, and hope you are as taken with Hobbs’s incredible adventures as we were!
1. It’s astounding that in 1927, a nineteen-year-old young woman “green as goose grass and full of lofty ideals” would accept a teaching job in a tiny gold-mining community in the Alaskan wilderness. From where do you think Anne Hobbs drew her courage and determination? Do you think her decision to go was somewhat foolish? Can you imagine making a similar choice?
2. Hobbs is shocked by the stark conditions in the Indian village she passes through on her way to Chicken and wonders, “why do they live this way?” How does her understanding of the Indians evolve through the events of the book?
3. Aside from the bitter cold weather and the lack of readily available provisions, do you think Chicken would be a decent place to live? How to you think living in such an isolated community has affected the residents?
4. Hobbs faces much opposition from several people in Chicken because of her sympathy for the native population, which is further exacerbated by her budding relationship with Fred Purdy. How does she deal with the prejudice she faces? Do you think she opened anyone’s eyes to their own bigotry? Have you ever found yourself in a position to speak out against someone else’s prejudice, however subtle?
5. Hobbs’s decision to adopt Chuck and Ethel is a sort of turning point in the course of events. Did she make the right choice to take them? Do you think she considered all of the ramifications?
6. Why did Fred leave? Do you think all of his motivations were purely noble, or was it a cowardly choice?
7. Tisha is Hobbs’s experience “as told to” Robert Specht. How much of the narrative do you think was embellished or rearranged in service of a good story? Were you willing to suspend your disbelief at all?
8. According to townofchicken.com, Anne Hobbs Purdy died in 1987 and is buried next to her husband on their homestead in Chicken, where there are daily tours of her schoolhouse. Who’s up for a trip next summer??