In Journal, Kristine Atkinson and Joyce Atkinson conjure the voyeuristic appeal of finding a stranger's diary, then becoming transfixed with the secrets contained within. These pages belong to artist, wife, and mother Amy Zoe Mason, whose riveting storytelling relies equally on visual and verbal clues.
Using an old book as her canvas, Amy layers words, collages, newspaper clippings, and emails into a personal narrative that at first feels familiar, until the sense of alarm begins to build. Readers will find themselves scouring the pages for missed hints and important evidence , compelled to interpret the signs.
Book Club Questions JOURNAL: The Short Life and Mysterious Death of Amy Zoe Mason By Kristine and Joyce Atkinson
1. Kristine and Joyce Atkinson say that they found the Journal in an old desk that they purchased. Why do you think they read it? What circumstances would make it all right to read another's diary? 2. Amy feels that she is better able to express herself through art than by words alone. Can nonverbal expression be as effective in telling a story as the written word? Which illustrations tell you the most about Amy? 3. Bob seems very impressed by Vanessa. Does Amy have a reason to worry? Is she threatened by her husband's relationship with another woman? Amy is a devoted stay-at-home mother and Vanessa is a highly successful career woman. Do they see aspects of each other's lives that are appealing? Does society pit these types of women against each other? Can a woman give equal attention to motherhood and a career and be successful at both? 4. Amy has a lot of anxiety about others' expectations of her. Are her worries valid? 5. Amy's relationship with her husband is very important to her. Does the marriage seem as important to Bob? Does Amy invest more in maintaining the relationship than Bob? 6. At times, Amy is depressed and worries about being paranoid. Are we witnessing a fall into deep depression or sinister plotting against Amy? If it is a plot, who is responsible? 7. Amy includes old family recipes, old photographs and a block of a family quilt in her journal. What do these items tell us about Amy? 8. Employing altered book techniques, Amy uses the Victorian novel Lucile as a base for the pages of her journal. How does Amy's book selection reflect her story? What do we know about Amy? Which person in her life do we learn the most about? Which characters would you speak with to learn more about Amy? Do there seem to be any holes or gaps in what the Journal holds? 9. Shortly after the publication of Lucile, it was discovered that the author, Owen Meredith, plagiarized an earlier work by the French, female novelist, George Sand. Although he didn't deny the plagiarism, the book continued to be produced, with over 2,000 different editions eventually printed. What do you think of this? Why do you think that happened? (No royalties were ever paid to George Sand.)