Book Club Discussion Topics – Magnificent Farewell

1. In chapter 3, Lucy tells Meg about a young Scot who’d lost an arm and leg and nearly bled to death. Meg’s response is to wonder if he wouldn’t have preferred to die. What does that exchange say about the two women? Were there other situations that showed a similar difference in their characters?

2. There were times Meg admired Lucy and at least two times when she scorned her. What was it about Lucy that might cause both reactions on Meg’s part?

3. At the end of chapter 4, Meg says about herself that in “some respects one woman began the [ambulance driving] work and another woman ended it.” How was that true?

4. Why do you think Lucy did not react in typical jealous fashion to Mac’s obvious interest in Meg?

5. What do/did you know about the real-life women mentioned in Magnificent Farewell: Edith Cavell, Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice Toklas, and Florence Allen?

6. What adjectives describe Lucy and Meg? Are any the same adjectives?

7. At the end of chapter 6, Meg observes that for Lucy not just every life mattered but every death, too. Is there a difference between the two beliefs? Do you think that same thing could be said about Meg?

8. On at least two occasions, Meg interrupts Mac before he can tell her how he feels about her. Why do you think she would do that?

9. At the end of chapter 13, Lucy observes about Meg that “the very qualities that made you such a formidable woman at the Front would make life hell for those around you in ordinary times.” True?

10. Lucy declares that Meg and she are friends because they “shared a war.” Is that enough for friendship? Do you think that each in her own way considered the other a friend? Without sharing the war, might they have been friends?

11. Meg says she loved Mac “in her own way.” Did she? What might “her own way” be?

12. How do Mac’s very last words to Meg show that his feelings for her had already begun to change?

13. Because of Meg’s mother’s actions, a child received medical treatment that might allow him to have a long, happy life. Does that mitigate, even justify her actions? Discuss the rights, wrongs, and reasons of Letty Tankard’s actions.

14. Why do you think Meg was so deeply affected whenever she saw people displaced by war?

15. IF you believe the two women protagonists were friends, what do you think each woman gained from the friendship?

16. The book is titled “Magnificent Farewell” from a phrase in a poem by Wilfred Owen. What farewells – both literal and figurative – do you find in the story?

17. In the prologue, Meg describes herself as a woman running from. From the epilogue, do you think she’s changed, at least in that respect?

18. Pick a chapter and find a connection between its heading and its contents.

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