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9 questions to consider after reading 'Great Circle' by Maggie Shipstead

Sit back, relax and talk about this thrilling book with family and friends.
Jenna Bush Hager holds up Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
TODAY Illustration / Cate Saunders
/ Source: TODAY

Jenna Bush Hager's May book club pick is all about female empowerment with the novel "Great Circle," by Maggie Shipstead.

The book tells the story of a woman before her time, Marian Graves. Born in 1914, Marian drops out of school at the age of 14 to follow her passion for aviation. She becomes a pilot after a wealthy bootlegger provides her with a plane and lessons, a debt she pays back for the rest of her life.

A century later, Hadley Baxter is an actor caught in the prison of celebrity culture in Hollywood. When she is cast to play Marian in a film about the pilot’s disappearance in Antarctica, the two women’s fates collide.

"Now, more than ever, I love reading about women who chart their own courses," said Jenna. "As a mom of two little girls and a young boy, I believe it is important to highlight fictional and nonfictional stories of fierce, independent women who don’t conform to what society says we need to be."

After reading, take a moment to look through the discussion questions below. Use them to start a conversation with family and friends about Shipstead's sweeping story.

  1. Why do you think Marian wants to fly around the world? Have you ever wanted to take a major risk without quite knowing why?
  2. What do you think Hadley wants from playing the role of Marian? Do you think her expectations are met?
  3. How is Marian’s life shaped by her experiences of love? Do you think she really wants to love someone? What about Hadley?
  4. What do you think is Marian’s idea of freedom? What is yours?
  5. How does Marian’s relationship with her brother, Jamie, evolve over time? How would you react if you had a sibling like Marian?
  6. Do you think "Peregrine" is going to be a good movie?
  7. How do you think Marian was shaped by her unusual childhood? Do you think she was bruised or strengthened by the fact that she never knew her parents?
  8. Hadley says that no story can ever be whole. What do you think she means?
  9. Which friend or relative would you pass this book on to and why?

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