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Rachel-K
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Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hi all,

 

Please use this thread to post questions for Shandi! She will officially join the conversation next week, on August 9th.

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marciliogq
Posts: 244
Registered: ‎02-22-2008

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi,

 

I first congratulate you for the success and achievement of this wonderful work. Thanks for you and Barnes and Noble for giving us the opportunity at participating of this book club.

 

I have some questions about your narrative:

 

1 - In the first part Teodor's children are playing with some mice and cats. Was the use of these animals a kind of metaphor related to the immigrants? Were they the mice persecuted by soldiers and a dictatorial regime?

 

2 - I realized you use repetitions in some parts of the book. What are the functions of these repetitions in your narrative?

 

3 - I particularly liked the way you narrated Teodor's days in prison. The use of numbers to remember days, hour, minutes,and fragmented images in his thoughts formed an ambience of desperation, like a tic tac clock. Was that your intention?

 

Thanks!

 

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,832
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Welcome Shandi and let me say congratulations early for a future best seller of which I have no doubt and this is after just reading the first part of Spring and Summer.

In your introduction to the book you mention a secret from your grandfather and since you brought it up I'm sure you'll enlighten us at the end, by Shandi I want to read on schedule and now I'm impatient to finish.

Well that's my cross to bear.

 

It astonishes me how cruel the past governments were to the very people responsible for creating those countries of today and it's always astonished me to find out that everything I read in school in text books and history books were often either false or didn't include enough of a "real history" for the students to really know the truth. That's how it was in the US growing up and I wondered if growing up in Canada was any different or did you know your family history from a young age. 

 

I love the colorful characters in your story and know that whatever happens in the end there will be someone left to carry on because these are incredibly strong people.

 

Thank you for letting us be a part of this with you on this your maiden voyage. 

New User
heppster
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎07-01-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell? (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT)

[ Edited ]

 

***********************SPOILER ALERT *********************************

 

 

Shandi,

First, let me say I thought the book was a page turner from early on.  i felt like your writing style really let me know the characters (like pillars of the earth) and i feel that i will remember them for a long time to come.  i really did not want the book to end.   I have 2  questions:

1- pgs. 261-265 it seems Anna is somewhat hallucinating.  Your writing style really changed there and it threw me off.  All the fragments and her odd thoughts made it hard for to get a lot of meaning from it except that she is a bit crazy.  What was the point of these pages?

 

2- I was so surprised by the ending and how theo's character had changed so drastically.  i never thought he could do this to his family- it was so selfish and nothing good came from it.  what made you change his personality so drastically in the end? 

Message Edited by PaulH on 08-03-2009 08:42 PM
Message Edited by rkubie on 08-05-2009 02:09 PM
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hi,

First, let me say that I am really enjoying your book. It was hard to put down.

Second, let me ask if your family came from the Ukraine and/or Canada and if so, when would they have lived in either place? Was it during the time period in which the book is set?

Third, if your heritage is indeed related, I am hoping that your family did not experience any of the grave hardships you have written about.

twj

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KathyS
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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One Question

[ Edited ]

Shandi,

 

You've got a classic on your hands!  And we're the lucky ones to have read it first!  I wanted to read your book on schedule, taking notes as I went....but I literally couldn't stop myself from finishing it in one sitting!  

 

The similarities between your story and Cather's, My Antonia, are close, showing the pain and heartbreak of these settlers, but I must tell you that I enjoyed your story and writing much more! 

 

I've never, in all honesty, read words exactly like these before.  Your gift for forming the written word gave me pictures of feelings and emotions that are rare to find in most novels.  They were immensely deep and meaningful; experiencing free thought was evident, merging both the fantasy with reality of mind.  It was breathtaking and powerful to feel it evolve and all come together.  I'll stop with this, and write more in a review, later.

 

My one questions is:  Are you planning to write another novel any time soon?  If and when, I'll be the first in line to buy it!  And I do plan to buy this one....it's a keeper!

 

Thank you, and all the very best,

 

Kathy S.

Message Edited by KathyS on 08-03-2009 03:21 PM
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debbook
Posts: 1,823
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Re: Whole description - spoiler

I don't have a question, I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying this book. Your writing is amazing and I can't believe this is your first book. I feel so involved with the characters and the story is so touching. I had to stop reading it for a bit because I know that I am going to be sobbing at some point. Lots of stories are heartbreaking but not all writers have the power to move me with their words. You do! I wish you much success and to echo Kathy, when is your next book coming out? Even though I'm not finished, I'm already recommending it to people!
A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
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literature
Posts: 499
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

[ Edited ]

 

*********************SPOILER ALERT ********************************* 

 

 

Shandi, and I feel close enough to you to not stand on ceremony, I just love your writing style...it's to the point without mincing words.  The story unfolded and kept going, always with new circumstances or the same but with a different approach.  Congratulations on a book well written. I will definitely recommend it to others.

 

Because I hung on every word you wrote, a noticed a repetition of words, phrases and/or expressions that you used that would set the stage for something later on.  You mentioned "in the crook of the two twisted trees" a number of times and I was sorry that I hadn't noted under which circumstances you used them each time.  Then, at the end, it becomes an important place for Teodor. I wonder if you put clues there each time for us leading up to Teodor's final act.

 

You also used colors to describe the sky and the land a lot, especially when referencing good things.  "The sun rising orange, scalloping the clouds red."  When Teodor moves his family to their new home "The white cloud plumes upward, drifting across the skyline."  During the fire, "The water glows red."  Then, "After the fire, in the south the sky glows red."  "Ivan's cheeks are red."  "Petro's apple is red and shiny."  When Teodor finds Petro and wraps him in a blanket, you write "white to black".  When you talk about an animal dying, you said "white on white, red on white, red on red".  When Anna has her baby and Petro sees the new born baby, Petro goes outside, wipping himself with snow, tryijng to get back to his place of whiteness.  Afterwards, you write "the night is blue and stiff".  When you wrote  "The Story Behind The Book" page, you mentioned that when you needed to remember details you went to the prairies and stood in the endless fields...tried to remember the light and color.  In each of these instances color was used as a means for transferring feelings.  I don't believe I am overanalyzing  the use of colors.

 

 

Unless I missed something in the reading, when the letters are being written back and forth to the Land Office and Teodor is trying to prove that the land is his, why wasn't the note brought forward that Anna signed when Teodore paid up his $10 to her?  I don't remember anything being mentioned up to that point that the signed note was nowhere to be found.  If the note was mentioned during the correspondence to and from the Land Office, then the story would have had to have taken a different turn. Did you purposely not mentioned the signed note or, as I said, maybe I just missed it.

 

 

 

 

Message Edited by rkubie on 08-05-2009 02:10 PM
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emmagrace
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I will not be pestering you with any questions at this time. I just wanted to say that this book is better than I hoped for! I really love your style and I look forward to reading your future work!!
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Jeanne_Genevieve
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Let me congratulate you on a wonderful work.  You have a very successful career ahead of you.  Your book is so beautifully written, and your passion for your tale comes through with every word.  As I read, it is easy to get lost in 1938, to feel the cold wind coming through the cracks in the walls, to feel the heat of fire scorching my face.  Yours is a book I will reread many times, and I have already recommended it to others.  I can't wait to finish the book, even though it means I will experience the heartbreak of these beloved characters.  But I also know there will be some sort of triumph, for such resilient characters will persevere in the end.

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michaelsjlrc
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎04-22-2008
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hi Shandi,

 

For the most part I am enjoying your book. I'm sticking to the reading schedule, so I've only finished Spring and Summer, but there was one thing that bothered me and I was wondering if you could explain it.  On page 121, when you are describing the fire scene, you have Myron use the f-word.  This seemed totally out of context for me (was that really a word used in 1930's prairies of Canada?).  It jolted me out of the scene and really ruined the imagery for me. Up until that spate of cursing I was very much engrossed in what was happening, but that ruined it for me.  Why was this use of language necessary?

 

Thanks

 

Jenny

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell? - Spoiler

Literature, you missed it.  It was subtle.  P.228   

literature wrote:

Shandi, and I feel close enough to you to not stand on ceremony, I

Unless I missed something in the reading, when the letters are being written back and forth to the Land Office and Teodor is trying to prove that the land is his, why wasn't the note brought forward that Anna signed when Teodore paid up his $10 to her?  I don't remember anything being mentioned up to that point that the signed note was nowhere to be found.  If the note was mentioned during the correspondence to and from the Land Office, then the story would have had to have taken a different turn. Did you purposely not mentioned the signed note or, as I said, maybe I just missed it.

 


 

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nbmars
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎02-21-2008
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I should add first of all that I loved the book! 

 

My question is similar to that of thewanderingjew.  How did you research this?  And the food - did you actually make or have someone make these things for you so you could talk about it so knowledgeably?

 

 

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Paul_Hochman
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Registered: ‎03-23-2007
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I'm sure Shandi willl chime in on this next week, but the f-word does date back to the early 1500's.

 


michaelsjlrc wrote:

Hi Shandi,

 

For the most part I am enjoying your book. I'm sticking to the reading schedule, so I've only finished Spring and Summer, but there was one thing that bothered me and I was wondering if you could explain it.  On page 121, when you are describing the fire scene, you have Myron use the f-word.  This seemed totally out of context for me (was that really a word used in 1930's prairies of Canada?).  It jolted me out of the scene and really ruined the imagery for me. Up until that spate of cursing I was very much engrossed in what was happening, but that ruined it for me.  Why was this use of language necessary?

 

Thanks

 

Jenny


 

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babzilla41
Posts: 252
Registered: ‎05-04-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Dear Ms. Mitchell:

 

Thank you for the opportunity to read/review your new book.  It's very difficult to put down and stick to the reading schedule!

 

I was wondering if you would give some insight into the paragraph where Maria is in the prison begging for the wagon and the Blessed Virgin appears to her,  "....her heart bleeding in her hands."....."The Virgin smiled, lifted her heart to her mouth, and swallowed it whole."  I think that I get that Maria is looking for absolution for what she is about to do, for the good of her family, but I just don't get the meaning behind, "The Virgin smiled, lifted her heart to her mouth, and swallowed it whole."  At first I thought that maybe Maria looses her religion, but the family continues to go to church after that incident and Maria encourages Teodore to return to religion. 

 

Again, thank you and best of luck with what is sure to be a best seller!

 

Barb

 

 

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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ssizemore
Posts: 70
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Barb-

I, too, wondered about this imagery and am glad you asked this question.  I am anxious to hear the explanation! Sandy

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lg4154
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Registered: ‎02-06-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I admire your writing style. You are so descriptive and the historical angle is dead on. I really do like the story behind the book at the very end. It always makes the story more enjoyable knowing what steps you had to take to get there.
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Anna_Louise
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi:

 

Thank you for sharing "your baby" with us!  What a wonderful baby it was and I'm so glad that I was among the first to "see" it.  I have many questions but will wait because they are about the end of the book and I don't want to "spoil" it for anyone who hasn't read ahead of the schedule. 

 

I just have to say that in addition to my busy work schedule (3 part-time jobs) and school schedule this summer (3 summer classes); I just couldn't put down your book.  I read it in 24 hours and enjoyed every moment living with both families in their world!

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no4daughter
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎10-15-2007
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Congratulations on your wonderful debut novel!  I have read all but one of the First Look selections and, in my opinion, this book is by far the best. 

 

Your publisher, in his note to readers, explains that this book was inspired by your personal family history and a deeply hidden secret in your grandfather's past.  If your grandfather immigrated, were you ever able to speak with him or other relatives about their early experiences in their newly adopted country?  How did you learn of the deeply hidden secret?  

 

Thanks so much for speaking with us. 

Inspired Wordsmith
chadadanielleKR
Posts: 367
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
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Re: One Question

I couldn't have said it better. My Antonia was on my mind shortly after I started reading your book. But this didn't prevent me to keep on reading. The private story of the characters are quite different but they all have a very hard time settling in the new world and  love and  fight for the land is at the core of each book.

 

The subject of your book is very good of course all the more that your have a special relationship with the main character (s). But what about your next book?  I am looking forward reading it and I hope that you will be as successful as with this one.

 

If I was a publisher I would definitely try to have it translated (in French for instance!)

 

Good luck


KathyS wrote:

Shandi,

 

You've got a classic on your hands!  And we're the lucky ones to have read it first!  I wanted to read your book on schedule, taking notes as I went....but I literally couldn't stop myself from finishing it in one sitting!  

 

The similarities between your story and Cather's, My Antonia, are close, showing the pain and heartbreak of these settlers, but I must tell you that I enjoyed your story and writing much more! 

 

I've never, in all honesty, read words exactly like these before.  Your gift for forming the written word gave me pictures of feelings and emotions that are rare to find in most novels.  They were immensely deep and meaningful; experiencing free thought was evident, merging both the fantasy with reality of mind.  It was breathtaking and powerful to feel it evolve and all come together.  I'll stop with this, and write more in a review, later.

 

My one questions is:  Are you planning to write another novel any time soon?  If and when, I'll be the first in line to buy it!  And I do plan to buy this one....it's a keeper!

 

Thank you, and all the very best,

 

Kathy S.

Message Edited by KathyS on 08-03-2009 03:21 PM

 

 

Danielle