Book Club Resources

The Name of the Book: Howl’s Moving Castle

Did WordPress change their editor or did I just forget how to use it because it’s been so bloody long since I posted any content? More importantly, will I actually finish writing my Sydney Writers Festival write ups this year? We’ll find out.

If you missed the Name of the Book Club meet this month you can find the livestream here. I talk a lot and dance around the room, so a bit of the same old same old. I also said in the stream that I would post my discussion questions because I am quite proud of them this month. If you’re not bothered to watch the livestream but still want to know my thoughts on the book Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones here is a quick spoiler free review:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
One of my favourite childrens books and one that is very close to my heart. I’m fond of the subversion of the fairytale genre within the text but my favourite thing about the book is the sense of magic and wonder that Wynne Jones is able to create in her work.

Scroll to the end for pictures of my son Calcifer.

THESE QUESTIONS ARE FULL OF SPOILERS SO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN EITHER THE BOOK OR THE MOVIE OF HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE AND WANT TO ENJOY EITHER/BOTH WITH INNOCENCE DO NOT KEEP READING.

Here are the discussion questions that I wrote for our book club meet this month (April 2019) reprinted unedited for the free use of anyone who needs them. Let me know if such resources are helpful for you or your book club and I might start posting more.

  1. How did you rate the book and why?
  2. Was this your first time reading the book?
  3. What parallels did you see in the book to the fairy tale genre? What subversions?
  4. How do you feel about the gradual reveal of Sophie’s magic? Did you think it was an effective reveal compared to other more instantaneous ones (such as that of the identities of Wizard Suliman/Ben Sullivan and Prince Justin)?
  5. Did you like Howl as a ‘hero’? Did you like Sophie? Both characters are emotional, impulsive, and at times childish – but through Sophie’s perspective Howl’s characteristics are more obvious than hers. Do you think that they’re suited to each other based on these similarities? Why/why not?
  6. This book is full of hints and foreshadowing to things that are revealed later. Did you pick up on any of them? Which ones? Was your perception assisted by having read it before/having seen the movie or not?
  7. Is there anything that you think the book could have spent more time or explanation on? What did you want more of?
  8. Diana Wynne Jones has said in interviews that she herself laughed at several scenes while writing the book. Were there any memorably funny scenes?
  9. If before this you had seen the movie but not read the book were you prepared for how different the two stories are? Do you think that the experience of one is enriched by the other? And if you were to pitch both to someone who was familiar with neither, would you recommend the book or the movie to read/watch first?
  10. What element of the book was most surprising to you?
Image Description: Calcifer (a seven year old chocolate Burmese cat) sitting next to a copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
Calcifer with my favourite book because he wouldn’t sit still long enough for a really nice picture with Howl’s Moving Castle.
Image Description: Calcifer (a seven year old chocolate Burmese cat) being stroked by his human slave while he looks cute.
The face of love that is given immediately before biting.