Discussion Questions

1. What might you personally have done had you faced Bluet's dilemma in Moscow? Discuss and compare with other members of your group.

2. Did anything about this book make you uncomfortable? If so, explain and discuss.

3. Do you think Bluet should have behaved differently as a mother? What were her inner conflicts? Did she handle them well? What might you have done differently?

4. What might you have done differently had you been Marc? Are we all hostage to our emotions to some extent?

5. Does this book change your perceptions about the Jewish involvement in the Bolshevik Revolution? Compare your knowledge and understanding before and afterwards.

6. Are we ready to take a more objective look at the Jews who became caught up in the early Communist movement? Discuss how their actions might have affected the reputation of the Jewish people. Have we treated them fairly? If not, why not?

7. Create your own ending to this book. Solve the lovers' dilemma another way.

8. In the end... did communism really stamp out Jewish practice and identity in Russia? If not, why not?

9. Discuss the attitudes and actions of anyone in your family, or your circle of friends, who became caught up in the left wing excitement of the twenties? How did you hear about it? Were these stories told with pride, secrecy or shame? Explain.

10. Did Marc deserve what he got?

Book Groups - Discussion ideas/questions

PLEASE NOTE: The author will participate by phone, Skype video-hookup, or in person at no charge (except for travel costs) in any book group discussion of her works. For more information click on "send me an E-mail" at the bottom of this page.

All books available from;
also from the author's other website: (

The author has also developed discussion questions for book groups for two of her titles: The Woman who Defied Kings (below) and Russian Dance.(see left column).


Discussion Questions: THE WOMAN WHO DEFIED KINGS

1.Why do we think that modern women were the first to lead truly independent lives? What forces in history would have made this probable in other eras? Discuss some examples.

2.Has this book changed your perceptions of the lives of Jewish people during the Renaissance? Compare your attitudes before and afterwards.

3.It probably does not surprise you that there have been other women leaders and women professionals like Doņa Gracia Nasi throughout history who we tend to hear nothing about. Discuss why this might have been so, especially in Jewish history.

4.What unfortunate character traits did Doņa Gracia develop while pursuing her mission? Could she have prevented this from happening? What were some of the personal side effects?

5.Do you think Doņa Gracia dealt fairly with her sister, Brianda? What else might she have done?

6.Do you think Doņa Gracia sensed in advance that she might end up losing the family fortune? Do you think this bothered her?

7.Do you think she was wrong in rejecting Cosimo de Medici's invitation to settle in Florence? If not, why not? If so, why?

8.Do you think the Ottoman rabbis had a reasonable attitude towards the incoming conversos? What were their underlying and often unspoken concerns?

9.Could the Tiberias experiment have been saved? If so, how. If not, why not.

10.What makes someone feel a sense of mission? Does this sort of work develop courage or are some people simply more courageous by nature? Discuss the interaction between courage and mission.

Ask me a question?

Click and type in a question or comment

Would you be willing to chat with our synagogue book group ties, July 23, 2013 between 1:00 pm and 2:30 (c=California time)
My name is Myra Weiss My email address is; my home phone is (562) 947-3343; my cell is (562) 896-2270
Thank you for a very interesting and well researched book.

My book group will be discussing your book tomorrow evening, Thurs. Jan 10th. Could we skype with you tomorrow evening?
Sandi Weinstein

What Others Say

History, romantic thriller, Jewish history
"A gripping narrative," Publishers' Weekly "highly recommended," Library Journal
Biography, Jewish History
"A delight!" Hadassah Magazine; "An assiduously researched biography," Publishers' Weekly
Sephardic, Caribbean and Mediterranean Jewish history,
History, culture, food, music and customs of the Jews who trace their ancestry to Spain and Portugal. pdf downloads now available from its dedicated website, where you also pay in any currency through Paypal:
Contemporary Parenting
"An excellent child-rearing guide," New York Times; available with hands-on workbooks. New! e-book edition and a companion documentary available on; workbooks directly from this author. This book has its own dedicated website: