Inspired by the true story of the quest for a blood-red rose Kate Forsyth weaves together a love story with beautiful period details. Find out who was paying attention with these conversation starters.
Discussion points and questions:
- Kate Forsyth’s fiction is inspired by a deep knowledge and passion for fairy tales from many different lands, travels, a thorough interrogation of history books and a belief that love really can change the world. How seamlessly do these strands of her storytelling weave together?
- There is a temptation to look at history in discrete chunks. Did the concurrence of events in revolutionary France and Qing dynasty China, illustrated in The Blue Rose most potently with the spotting of the tricolour flying at sea, hold any surprises for you?
- China is a major trading partner of Australia and many other countries. Is there anything we can glean from the Canton system explored in The Blue Rose to take into our ongoing relationship?
- There are many stories and films of Europe and particularly France in the last years of the 18th century, but we do not often see adventures and romance set in the same period in China. Do you think we overlook these tales due to an inherent East vs West bias?
- Olympe de Gouges and her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Citizen, the perceived power of Marie Antoinette and Joan of Arc centuries before illustrate powerful feminism in France. Yet full suffrage was only granted to women in 1965. What could be the source of this?
- Gardening and farming in the novel, in both France and China, provide life and sustenance, medicine and restoration and moments of cultural exchange. Kate Forsyth herself is a gardener who loves to grow her own food. Should we all put our hands in the soil more often? How might this change our life?
- What is the role of historical fiction in our cultural life?