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Book clubs  •  5 May 2019


Master Of My Fate book club notes

This novel about one man’s journey to become his own master, from slavery in Jamaica, through to eventual freedom in colonial New South Wales, is perfect for book clubs.

William Buchanan lived an extraordinary life. Born a slave on a plantation in Jamaica, he escaped the gallows more than once. His part in the slave uprisings of the 1830s led to his transportation across the world as one of the convicts sent to New South Wales. Get your book club discussion started with the reading group questions listed below.

Discussion points and questions:

  • Master Of My Fate is written in the first person and we experience the story from William’s perspective. Do you think this is an effective way to tell the story? If so why? If not, why not?
  • William experiences slave life on the plantation in Jamaica and convict life in New South Wales. How would you compare the two, and if you had to choose one, which would it be?
  • How would you describe the relationship between Massa and William, which is biological? And what about Stella? How does nature/nurture fare when explored through occupation and colonisation?
  • Sam Sharpe talks about breaking the silence of slavery. What is he asking of his listeners?
  • Through their joint experiences, James Smith and William have forged a special bond. And yet, William decides to let the friendship lapse. Why does he? Would you? 
  • The driving narrative of the book is for the main characters to be free of bondage. What other themes are embedded in the story?
  • By the end of the novel, William becomes the master of his fate. Is he finally free?

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