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Book clubs  •  17 January 2020


The Cedar Tree book club notes

Transport your book club to the Strzelecki Desert, the Richmond Valley and County Tipperary.

Spanning two centuries, Nicole Alexander’s compelling new novel is a story of love and faith, destiny and betrayal, in a land as richly diverse as the secrets it keeps.

Get your book club conversation started with our questions below.

Discussion points and questions:

  • Alternating between the 1860s and the 1940s, among the lush forests of the Richmond Valley and the barren Strzelecki Desert, The Cedar Tree asks whether we can ever truly begin again or if our actions mark us forever? Discuss.
  • The Cedar Tree is a captivating tale of love, betrayal, religious intolerance and the far-reaching effects of ambition. Which of these themes struck you the most while reading the novel?
  • Brandon O’Riain hopes for a better life in Australia. Although he is caught up in difficulties of his cousin’s making, and torn between family duty and personal opportunity, how strong a part do his own desires play in determining the course of his life?
  • Maggie and Stella are born in different centuries and yet find their lives changed by the actions of men. Over time, both women take control of their destinies. Discuss and compare their situations. Do you applaud Stella by the end of the novel? Do you have the same admiration for the choices Maggie makes?
  • Joe’s personality alters, as does Stella’s, during their marriage. How much of an effect do you feel the environment has on them individually and as a couple?
  • The Cedar Tree explores how an individual’s actions can affect people’s lives, even when decades lie between them. Discuss Harry’s attitude towards his brother, Joe, and Brandon and Stella. Is it natural that he stands by his father’s grudges, or should he have made an effort to reconcile sooner?
  • The 1860s section of The Cedar Tree is set during a volatile time in Australian history – the continuing decimation of the Big Scrub, and the ramifications of Robertson’s Land Acts. Do you feel that the historical threads running through the narrative were handled deftly?
  • The Australian landscape, particularly the Strzelecki Desert, is an integral part of The Cedar Tree. How well has the author managed to convey a sense of place in the novel?

Feature Title

The Cedar Tree
Spanning two centuries, Nicole Alexander’s compelling novel is a story of love and faith, destiny and betrayal, in a land as richly diverse as the secrets it keeps.
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