An Exclusive LoveAuthor: Johanna Adorjan
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Featured in the October, 2010 magazine
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2. This book shifts in chronology, beginning many years after the suicide, and travelling forward and backward in both time and place. It uses supposition, research, memory, interview and imagination to construct the narrative. To what extent does the structure add to or detract from the tale? To what extent does the construction make this a more or less convincing story?
4. ‘What price love?’ Does love have a price? Should it? Can you understand Vera and Pista’s choice? How would you act in the same circumstances?
5. If a biography is a record of one’s life (as defined by the Macquarie dictionary) could this book be classed as such, despite its large sections of imaginative supposition? Must biography always be linked to verifiable evidence? Justify your view.
6. Consider the following thoughts on suicide:
7. Should the writing of a narrative, which uses the life of others, be constrained by ethical considerations? Might the novel be considered a somewhat selfish indulgence? Refer to pages 102 and 103 in your answer to this question.
8. What is suggested by the title An Exclusive Love? Is the love described therein selfish or is it exclusive in the sense that it is precious?
9. Read pages 82 and 83 aloud. These passages suggest that Adorján’s grandparents were not interested in their Jewish heritage. Why do you think this is the case? Contrast their lack of willingness to discuss their Jewish heritage with their own family against their eagerness to confess their Jewishness when first meeting Helene and her husband. (p.79)
10. Re-read the chapter, beginning on page 83, in which the author discusses her inherent sense of belonging on her trip to Israel. Why do you think she felt this way? Is identity innate?
11. In seeking to understand the double suicide of her grandparents, Adorján comes to understand that in her grandmother she had a kindred spirit. Adorján describes her deepest feelings of lack of belonging on page 50: ‘(I) don’t know where it comes from. Ever since I can remember I have felt as if I were in the way… That is my deepest conviction and at the same time my greatest fear… What extraordinary news—my grandmother felt just like me?’ Adorján’s ability to connect with her dead grandmother leads her to regret her childhood plan to have her ‘Copenhagen grandmother, whom I apparently resemble so much, come so far down in my estimation. She was temperamental, unpredictable and egotistic. Just like me…’ (p.144) By exploring the character of her grandmother, the writer finds this strong link to herself. In so doing, she comes to a better understanding of herself. So whose story is this?