We and Me (US Edition)By Saskia de Coster
On a private estate near the top of a mountain lives the Vandersanden family. Neurotic, aristocratic Mieke grooms her carpets while keeping a close eye on her family and her neighbours. Her husband, the self-made man Stefaan, is building up a career in a pharmaceutical company which is threatened by scandal. Daughter Sarah, overprotected by her parents and curious for the real life, is finding her own path; like a contemporary Madame Bovary or an Anna Karenina, she longs for…
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Wij en ik
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‘The Great Flemish Novel is not dead. It has just been written by Saskia de Coster. We and Me is a novel that will haunt me for a long time. Excellent and unforgettable.’ —HERMAN KOCH, author of The Dinner‘For years the most stubborn, capricious and attractive pen of Belgium.’ —TOM LANOYE, author of Speechless‘'Great American Novels' by writers such as Franzen, Dave Eggers and Jeffrey Eugenides remain a strong trend among UK fiction readers, and We and Me could quite easily be considered the European equivalent.’ —Bill Godber, Turnaround
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Book Club Questions
Book Club Questions
- Could you sympathize with the rather unlikeable Melanie?
- There are clear parallels between father and daughter – are there any parts of Melanie or Mieke which you can recognize in Sarah?
- Does the description of the social structure of Nightingale Lane remind you of any place or social group you know in your country? What do you take away from this novel as being typically Flemish?
- What is the role of the first person plural ‘we’ voice?
- Does Sarah succumb to the pressure of the ‘we’ voice, does she overcome it, or does she perhaps find a new way of living with it?
- Do you know any of the bands mentioned in the novel (Bob Dylan, the grunge bands …)? Did you find any ties between music tastes and characters’ personalities?
- Does Mieke seem to consider Sarah mainly as the continuation of her husband’s family line, or does she also leave room for her own family line in her child? Do you recognize her attitude from mothers in your own life?
- Both the family as a whole and the individuals within it seem to move toward disintegration (insanity, bitterness, alienation) as the novel progresses. Do the final chapters show a possible movement toward harmony? If so, how?
- Does Mieke play an important role in that possible new harmony?
- Do you think sometimes a brusque move away (like Sarah’s move to New York) can be healthy for an oppressive family?
- Would you call Sarah’s choice to move away selfish, perhaps frivolous? If so, why?
- Will Sarah keep the baby? Should she?