1. What did you like best (or least) about AROON?
2. Who was your favorite character?
3. Do your opinions of any characters change during the story? How?
4. How might Eveleen’s feelings toward her father have affected her attraction to Richard?
5. Discuss this quote from the 18th-century satirist, Jonathan Swift, paraphrased by Noreen when she advised Eveleen.
“I must caution you particularly against my Lord’s eldest son…if he be a common rake…you will get nothing from him but a big belly or a clap, or probably both together.”
6. The hag that unnerved Maeve in town, Winnie Dunn, told her, “Yer looking at yerself in twenty years.” Later, before she was murdered, Winnie wailed about the abortion Richard’s grandfather forced upon their unborn child. Do you have any theories about who or why Winnie was beaten to death?
7. Maeve and, to a lesser extent, Tara sought to undermine Eveleen when she arrived at Duncullen. Yet, things went terribly wrong for them. Did they deserve their fate?
8. There were clear class divisions in 18th century Ireland, yet Richard fell in love with a girl far, far beneath him. What do you think were his personal opinions regarding class?
9. Concerning his relationship with his father, his future as a country squire, to say nothing of his “marriage” to Eveleen, Richard felt cornered time and again. Was he? What options did he have?
10. Both Will and Noreen Bridge explain their perceptions of what true love is. Which is closer to your own?
Will: “Passion is what I’m talking about, Noreen. Love and hate sit side-by-side, with only the thread of a spider between them. So fragile, a breach of that thread can turn the greatest love into malignant fury, as it has done to you. But, make no mistake, the passion is the same.”
Noreen: “There’s another kind of love better than passion. Something stronger and deeper, the kind of love I have for you. A love that comes from years of trust, knowing yer there for me through thick and thin. Not once have ye let me down, Will Bridge. Never. Not even now.”
11. Lady Nancy feared for her mental health, but what about Richard? Did he have mental health issues? Were his mystical encounters real or a manifestation of hereditary madness?
12. Sir Edward’s last words to Richard were, “Still the coward.” Was he right?
13. At his father’s wake, Richard was flanked by his maternal cousin, Thomas de Barnefort, when a man claiming to be his father’s cousin, Cornelius Lynche, barged into the parlor. What does the contrast between these two relatives tell you about Irish history?
14. Paddy Scully’s worst fears came to pass when Will brought his daughter home, defiled by those he despised. He told Will, “I got two more lasses here—good, decent girls who’ll make fine wives one day. But not with their bawd of a sister dragging them into the muck.” Discuss any irony you find in his statement. Also, considering the attitudes of the times, did he have a fair point? Include thoughts about how little power 18th century women held over their lives.
15. Richard had relationships with three people at or near his own age—Jack, Eveleen, and Alistair. What did each friendship offer the lonely heir of Duncullen?
16. What of Richard’s final confrontation with his father’s ghost? From where did Sir Edward’s power come? What do you think will become of Richard?
For the next chapters in the lives of Richard, Alistair, Eveleen, and little Nan, leap forward fifteen years in The Duncullen Saga’s Book Two: Harps Upon the Willows.