The End of Innocence
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In this enthralling story of love, loss, and divided loyalties, two students fall in love on the eve of WWI and must face a world at war--from opposing sides.
Cambridge, MA, 1914: Helen Windship Brooks, the precocious daughter of the prestigious Boston family, is struggling to find herself at the renowned Harvard-Radcliffe university when carefree British playboy, Riley Spencer, and his brooding German poet-cousin, Wils Brandl, burst into her sheltered world. As Wils quietly helps the beautiful, spirited Helen navigate Harvard, they fall for each other against a backdrop of tyrannical professors, intellectual debates, and secluded boat rides on the Charles River.
But with foreign tensions mounting and the country teetering on the brink of World War I, German-born Wils finds his future at Harvard--and in America--increasingly in danger. When both cousins are called to fight on opposing sides of the same war, Helen must decide if she is ready to fight her own battle for what she loves most.
Based on the true story behind a mysterious and controversial World War I memorial at this world-famous university, The End of Innocence sweeps readers from the elaborate elegance of Boston's high society to Harvard's hallowed halls to Belgium's war-ravaged battlefields, offering a powerful and poignant vision of love and hope in the midst of a violent, broken world.
Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492603832, 309pp.
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- In the beginning of the novel, Professor Copeland states, “There is loss in this world, and we shall feel it, if not today, then tomorrow, or the week after that….But there is also something equal to loss that you must not forget. There is an irrepressible renewal of life that we can no more stop than blot out the sun. This is a good and encouraging thought.” Do you believe Copeland’s point of view that this is encouraging? Discuss how this theme emerges throughout the novel.generic viagra price canada
- Riley is a handsome British playboy. Many people find this type of young man very charming. Why? What are his redeeming features?generic viagra price canada
- What does Helen find so lovely and refreshing in Wils Brandl? What does Wils find so attractive in Helen? What do the two characters have in common? How are they different?generic viagra price canada
- Wils, Helen, and Professor Copeland believe in the power of poetry to release energy that can heal the soul. Has this been your experience with poetry? If so, what poets or poems have you found especially healing?generic viagra price canada
- As a German who loves America and has British relatives, Wils must decide whether to fight for his country in World War I against classmates and relatives or forgo his homeland and family to be with his beloved Helen. What are your thoughts on how he handled his divided loyalties? Would you have made the same choices? If we have conflicting loyalties, what are helpful ways to resolve those?generic viagra price canada
- Have you ever had a relationship with someone others would consider “the enemy”? How did you handle this response from others? What were the challenges and advantages of such a relationship?generic viagra price canada
- In the early part of the 20th century, mail in Boston (and America) was routinely searched for obscene materials (like birth control and information about contraception) and its sender punished. How is America different today regarding censorship and privacy? Is this a good or a bad thing?generic viagra price canada
- Wils and Helen both have experiences being treated as outsiders at Harvard even though they seem to “have it all.” Have you ever been an outsider? What helpful actions did people take that supported you during this vulnerable time?generic viagra price canada
- Helen’s reaction to the loss of Wils plays a significant role in Part 3. Have you ever experienced deep grief? How was your experience similar to, or different from, Helen’s? What approach or mind-set helped to heal your heart?generic viagra price canada
- If you were President Lowell of Harvard, would you have accepted or refused a memorial that included America’s World War I enemies? Why?generic viagra price canada
- The Christmas hymn “Silent Night” was sung at the Christmas Truce of 1914 in both German and English. Some call that moment the last gasp of innocence in the world—when a war can be called off by a song. Is this true? Where have you seen innocence and beauty interrupt either physical violence (such as a war) or emotional violence?generic viagra price canada