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"What do you think about relationships with significant age gaps? Why do some succeed and some don't...?"


A reader's guide to
Devotion by Michelle Herman


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In Devotion, an affair with a much older voice teacher leads a young girl into early marriage, leaving behind her Brooklyn family and friends for a new life shadowed by her husband's Old World expectations. Decades later, with her child now pursuing an art career in New York, mother and son come to terms with the quiet intimacy they've both resented and cultivated. With shades of Woolf and Bellow, Devotion is a story of family, solitude, and self-expression, where old and new values ripple across generations.

  • Esther was very young when she got pregnant. What do you think of her decision to marry?

  • Esther's family, particularly her father, was very protective and strict. How do you think her upbringing played into her affair with Bartha and her “running away” with him?

  • What do you imagine her friends back in Brooklyn make of Esther's disappearance?

  • The age gap between Esther and Bartha is very large. What do you think about relationships with significant age gaps? Why do some succeed and some don't?

  • Over the years, Esther and Bartha each developed their own interests, which is common relationship advice today. They also raised an ambitious, creative, independent son and were generally respectful of each other. Would you call their marriage a success?

  • Do you believe that Esther and Bartha love (loved) each other?

  • There's a lot of silence between Esther, Bartha, and Alexander. If you could “make” them speak, what would have them say to each other?

  • What do you think about the role that music and art play in these characters lives?

  • Imagine you are a member of Esther's family who has been receiving and reading her letters. How would you respond?

  • Do you believe that Esther will eventually make a trip back to New York, as Alexander has suggested?



  • Michelle Herman
    Devotion
    252 pages
    $16.00 paperback ISBN 9781937402815
    $9.99 ebook ISBN 9781937402822

    March 2016

    Esther Savaris was halfway through her senior year of high school, a pretty girl, seventeen years old and still growing (according to the doctor, who had known her all her life. . .


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