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The Moon in the Mango TreeThe Moon in the Mango Tree
Pamela Ewen
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Excerpt


Set in Siam and Europe during the 1920s, the glittering decade of change, The Moon In The Mango Tree is based upon the true story of Barbara Bond, a beautiful young ex-patriot and opera singer from Philadelphia who is forced to choose between her fierce desire for independence-a desire to create something of her own to give purpose and meaning to her life-and a deep abiding love for her faithful missionary husband whose work seems to create a gap between them. But when you choose between two things you love, must one be lost forever?
     

 

 The Moon in the Mango Tree Discussion Questions: by Pamela Ewen


 

1.                  Barbara Perkins has trained for years to sing grand opera. A former suffragette, she’s beautiful, talented, and smart. Twice during The Moon In The Mango Tree—at the beginning and the end—Barbara is forced to choose between pursuing a singing career and her love for Harvey. What factors do you think most influence her decision in each case?

 

 

 

 

 

2.                  Barbara travels to Siam with Harvey in 1919 and arrives at the mission near the ancient walled city of Nan, wary but optimistic. Immediately she clashes with Amalie and Emory Breeden. Reverend Breeden tells her that it is “fear, not joy, that leads us.” How does this perspective influence Barbara? How does Joshua Smithers argue against this view of Christianity with the Potter’s Tale in chapter 19?

 

 

 

 

 

3.                  Barbara visits the deserted Buddhist temple Wat Phumin despite warnings from the missionaries. There she meets an elderly monk who describes life as a rainbow. What does he mean by that? How does this contrast with Barbara’s view of life? with the Siam mission’s view of life? What does Harvey’s reaction when he learns of her visit to the temple reveal about his relationship with Barbara?

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.                  What does Barbara mean when she says that her father was her “listener”? Do you have a listener in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

5.                  During the monsoon, Harvey leaves Barbara to tend a village ravaged by jungle fever. Barbara’s feelings of abandonment lead to resentment and simmering anger. If she had learned what happened in the village at this point in the story, how do you think that might have changed the course of Barbara’s life?

 

 

 

 

 

6.                  What does Joshua Smithers mean when he warns Barbara that she must define what she means by the word “religious” before she rejects it.

 

 

 

 

 

7.                  Toward the end of Part I, seeking comfort, Barbara compares Christian and Buddhist thought and comes to a startling conclusion. What conclusion does she reach? How does this change her own view of the mission at Nan and her own view of life?

 

 

 

 

 

8.                  Stars are mentioned several times throughout the book. What is the significance of this statement by Barbara in chapter 21: “False stars? That too?”

 

 

 

 

 

9.                  When, in 1926, Harvey and Barbara are asked to return to Siam, to Bangkok, she agrees to go, but resolves that things will be different this time. What does she mean by her statement that she was riding a glimmering chariot and forgot altogether the sun god’s warning: “Keep to the middle course”?

 

 

 

 

 

10.              On her way to Rome in Chapter 29, Barbara concludes that for Harvey, duty and his work will always come first. Do you believe Harvey feels this way? Why did Barbara feel like a hatchling that’s just spotted the first crack in the shell?

 

 

 

 

 

11.              In Rome, her new friend, Ted Jordan, tells her of stallion races that the Romans held thousands of years ago in Piazza Navonne. The winner’s head was lopped off at the finish line, he says, just at the moment of triumph. Barbara comments that the race was won, and we only remember the winners. The others are dust, gone and forgotten. What does she mean by that and how does it apply to her own life at that moment?

 

 

 

 

 

12.              In Lausanne, Barbara finds herself crying as she watches her daughters sleep at night. What is the conflict that she’s facing? What does she mean when she muses that, “It is not a matter of love. . . . True love requires strength, not weakness as a partner.”

 

 

 

 

 

13.              During one of her singing lessons in Rome, the Maestro says to Barbara: “Free the music. It is inside of you. Let it flow from within. You are the instrument.” When faced with the choice between Harvey and the new life that Rome offers, Barbara thinks of these words. What do they mean to her as she makes this final choice?

 

 

 

 

 

14.              Many women today still struggle with the excruciating choice that Barbara was forced to make between family and a career. Do you believe that women today are able to give 100 percent to both? Do women have to choose between the two, or do you think there’s a way to compromise? What do you think of Barbara’s belief that when you choose between two things you love, one of them is lost? Have you ever had to make that choice?

 

 

 

 

 

15.              The priest in Rome tells Barbara that Harvey’s work in Siam was no abstract ideal. What did he mean by that? He reminded Barbara of the words of the Apostle, Paul…of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love. What do you think Paul means by these words—wouldn’t it seem that faith would hold the higher value to the apostle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Discussion Question Index

A


 • Abigail: Jill Eileen Smith
 • Abigail's New Hope: Mary Ellis
 • Against All Odds: Irene Hannon
 • Against the Tide: Elizabeth Camden
 • Almost Forever: Deborah Raney

B


 • Blue Moon Promise: Colleen Coble
 • Blue Widow Brides: Maggie Brendan
 • Breach of Trust: DiAnn Mills
 • (The) Bridesmaid: Beverly Lewis
 • (The) Bridge: Karen Kingsbury
 • Brigid of Ireland: Cindy Thomson
 • Burn: Ted Dekker

C


 • (The) Calling: Suzanne Woods Fisher
 • (The) Chance: Karen Kingsbury
 • Chasing Mona Lisa: Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey
 • Chasing the Sun: Tracie Peterson
 • Choices of the Heart: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate: Diana Wallis Taylor
 • Critical Care: Candace Calvert
 • Crossing Oceans: Gina Holmes

D


 • (The) Dance: Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
 • Deadline: Randy Alcorn
 • Deadly Devotion: Sandra Orchard
 • Deadly Ties: Vicki Hinze
 • Deception: Randy Alcorn
 • (The) Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow: Olivia Newport
 • (The) Discovery: Dan Walsh
 •  Dolled Up to Die: Lorena McCourtney
 • Demon: A Memoir: Tosca Lee
 • Digitalis: Ronie Kendig
 • Dogwood: Chris Fabry
 • Double Minds: Terri Blackstock
 • Dying to Read: Lorena McCourtney

 F


 • Fair Is the Rose: Liz Curtis Higgs
 • Freefall: Kristen Heitzmann
 • Frontiersman's Daughter: Laura Frantz

G


 • Gift of Grace: Amy Clipston
 • Gone South: Meg Mosley
 • Grace: Shelley Shepard Gray

H


 • Havah; The Story of Eve: Tosca Lee
 • Heart's Safe Passage: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Highland Sanctuary: Jennifer Hudson Taylor
 • Hope of Refuge: Cindy Woodsmall

I


 • Intervention: Terri Blackstock
 • Into the Whirlwind: Elizabeth Camden
 • Invisible: Ginny Yttrup
 • Iscariot: Tosca Lee

J


 • (The) Jewel of His Heart: Maggie Brendan
 • June Bug: Chris Fabry

 K


 • Katie's Way: Marta Perry
 • Killer Among Us: Lynette Eason

L


 • Lady in the Mist: Laurie Alice Eakes
 • Lady of Bolton Hill: Elizabeth Camden
 • Lady of Milkweed Manor: Julie Klassen
 • (A) Lasting Impression: Tamera Alexander
 • Leah's Choice: Marta Perry
 • The Lesson: Suzanne Woods Fisher
 • Lethal Remedy: Richard Mabry
 • Life in Defiance: MaryLu Tyndall
 • Like Dandelion Dust: Karen Kingsbury
 • Lonestar Sanctuary: Colleen Coble
 • Lonestar Secrets: Colleen Coble
 • Love Amid the Ashes: Mesu Andrews
 • Love at Any Cost: By Julie Lessman
 • Love Calls: Lorna Sielstad
 • Love in a Broken Vessel: Mesu Andrews

M

 • Making Waves: Lorna Sielstad
 • (A) Memory Between Us: Sarah Sundin
 • Moon in the Mango Tree: Pamela Ewen
 • Moonlight Masquerade: Ruth Axtell
 • (A) Most Peculiar Circumstance: Jen Turano
 • My Heart Remembers: Kim Vogel Sawyer

N


 • Naomi's Gift: Amy Clipston
 • Never Far From Home: Mary Ellis
 • Nightshade: by Ronie Kendig
 • No Place for a Lady: Maggie Brendan
 • (A) Noble Groom: Jody Hedlund

O


P


 • Paper Roses, by Amanda Cabot
 • Plain Jayne, by Hillary Manton Lodge
 • Preacher's Bride: Jody Hedlund
 • Promise of an Angel: Ruth Reid


R


 • Rebekah: by Jill Eileen Smith
 • Redeeming Love: Francine Rivers
 • Redemption: Karen Kingsbury & Gary Smalley
 • (A) Reluctant Queen: Joan Wolf
 • Remember to Forget: Deborah Raney
 • Remembered: Tamera Alexander

S


 • Sarah's Gift: Marta Perry
 • Shadows of the Past: Patricia Bradley
 • Simple Choices: Nancy Mehl
 • Simple Deceit: Nancy Mehl
 • Slow Moon Rising: Eva Marie Everson
 • Someone to Blame: Susanne Lakin
 • A Sound Among the Trees: Susan Meissner
 • The Sweetest Thing: Elizabeth Musser

T


 • Tailor Made Bride: Karen Witemeyer
 • That Certain Summer: Irene Hannon