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Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. The author compares the novel’s form to an Impressionist painting. Where do you think this idea comes from? Does the form work?

2. How might Orchard’s nonchronological form be justified? How would the novel change if it were structured differently?

3. Much is made of possession and ownership in this novel; we see shifts in power among almost all of the characters. Discuss some of its manifestations or variations of the theme.

4. Why do you think Harriet Weaver stays with her husband? Do you understand her motivations? What would you do in her position?

5. Throughout Orchard, paintings are portrayed in vivid detail. How do these descriptions function in the novel?

6. It is clear that several of Watson’s characters undergo emotionally draining experiences. How do these characters change over the course of the novel?

7. What does Orchard say about the responsibility of the artist? Ned Weaver has a very definite view on the matter. Are readers likely to share his opinion?

8. What inspires Sonja to pose for Weaver? Do you think her reasons change? Does she harbor any regrets about her decision?

9. Is it enough to say that Henry House is jealous that his wife is posing for Ned Weaver, or are his feelings more complex?

10. What are some of the different attitudes toward art in the novel? Toward artists?

11. Would you pose for an artist?

12. How is a muse different from a model?

From the Hardcover edition.
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