Monthly Archives: March 2013

Dearest Friend, A Life of Abigail Adams: Overview, Review, Letters read aloud and Discussion Questions


Overview:  This is the life of Abigail Adams, wife of patriot John Adams, who became the most influential woman in Revolutionary America. Rich with excerpts from her personal letters, Dearest Friend captures the public and private sides of this fascinating woman, who was both an advocate of slave emancipation and a burgeoning feminist, urging her husband to “Remember the Ladies” as he framed the laws of their new country. John and Abigail Adams married for love. While John traveled in America and abroad to help forge a new nation, Abigail remained at home, raising four children, managing their estate, and writing letters to her beloved husband. Chronicling their remarkable fifty-four-year marriage, her blossoming feminism, her battles with loneliness, and her friendships with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Dearest Friend paints a portrait of Abigail Adams as an intelligent, resourceful, and outspoken woman. (


NY Times Book Review:

John and Abigail’s Letters are read aloud by members of the Mass. Historical Society, including Ted Kennedy and others:


Letter contents:

Miss Adorable

By the same Token that the Bearer hereof satt up with you last night I hereby order you to give him, as many Kisses, and as many Hours of your Company after 9 O’Clock as he shall please to Demand and charge them to my Account: This Order, or Requisition call it which you will is in Consideration of a similar order Upon Aurelia for the like favour, and I presume I have good Right to draw upon you for the Kisses as I have given two or three Millions at least, when one has been received, and of Consequence the Account between us is immensely in favour of yours,

John Adams
Octr. 4th. 1762

Discussion Questions created by John:

1. What made the situation in Boston so much more severe before and at the beginning of the revolution than for the rest of the country?

2. How did this play a role in making Abigail and John among the more fervent advocates for the independence?

3. How did John’s role in politics affect Abigail as mother, wife and provider?

4. How did this in turn affect the children and how they developed and the choices they made for careers and the adults they became?

5. Discuss the complicated relationships between the Adams, Franklin and Jefferson.

6. Why has history not treated the Adams better until recently?


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Filed under Biography, History

The Hobbit – Summary, Questions, Etc.


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is a magical tale, in all the best senses of that phrase.  It tells the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, an every-man despite the fact that he isn’t a man.  He deals with his unexpected adventure the way most of us would.  He’s scared, cranky, and more often than not, wishing that he had stayed at home in his nice comfy hobbit hole.  But the fact that Bilbo didn’t really want to be on this trip doesn’t take away from the adventure, it adds to it because it is through Bilbo that the reader feels connected to the story.  It may be hard to relate to a wizard or a dwarf, but Bilbo is familiar to us, because in some way, he is us.  Bilbo is thrown into the midst of a party of dwarves looking to reclaim their homeland from the dragon, Smaug.  Along the way, they encounter giant spiders, men who turn into bears or vis versa, elves, goblins, and a magical ring.  Bilbo grows from a frightened hobbit to the leader of these brave souls.  He grows and is never the same again. (

Discussion Questions: (From various sources and some of our own)

1. How might Tolkien’s tone and content change if he included a few lady hobbits, elves, or dwarves in this adventure? Why do you think he didn’t include them?

2. Are you reading this for the first time? If this is a re-read, what is different from your first time? How has the experience changed?

3. Did the author do a good job of world building? Why or why not?

4. Which of the characters did you like the most? Which did you dislike? Were you able to keep the characters straight?

5. Were there parts of the book you especially enjoyed, or parts you did not like?

6. Did the plot take turns you did not expect, or did you find it predictable?

7. What was the most influential factor in drawing you in or turning you off the book? (Pick a passage, a character, a scene, an idea, etc.)

8. The Hobbit is 75 years old. Why do you think we are still reading it (and making movies of it)?

9. A frequent complaint about The Hobbit is the amount of songs and poems included. Did you read them? If you did, did you enjoy them? ( – questions 2-9)

10. Have you read the original chapter “Riddles in the Dark” that later was revised to accommodate Lord of the Rings?

11. Why do you think that Gandalf picked Bilbo to go on the quest with the dwarves?  He lies and tells them that Bilbo is a burglar, but adds that hobbits can often go unnoticed.  Why include a hobbit at all since they hate adventure? (

12. What is different from the story and the movie?

Movie Information and Site


Official Trailer

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Filed under Fiction