Thank you for reading The Lucky Hat Mine. This Book Club guide includes questions that are aimed at enriching your discussion and help your group find diverse topics of discussion.
Researching the history and stories in The Lucky Hat Mine is one of author J.v.L. Bell’s favorite things to do. For book discussion groups, here are some discussion topics to start your meeting:
Millie Virginia recites quotes and includes information about proper lady’s etiquette throughout the book. Only once has the author taken liberties and quoted proper etiquette that did not come from a lady’s etiquette book. Can you guess which rule of etiquette is fabricated?
J.v.L. Bell would be glad to SKYPE into your meeting if it can be arranged and provide you with the proper answer. Email her at [email protected] if you are interested in her attending your meeting.
Book Club Questions:
- Millie chooses to answer a wife-wanted advertisement and leave everything and everyone she knows. Why would she do this? What would drive you to make this kind of change and sacrifice?
- Millie arrives in Idaho Springs and is surprised by her modern cabin. The cabin is described as having uneven wooden board flooring, a river rock fireplace, and a Charter Oak cookstove. Is this an accurate description of the kind of cabin pioneers in the 1860’s lived in? What do you think would be the hardest part of living in such homestead?
- When she first arrives in Idaho Springs, Millie describes how different the Colorado Territory and Idaho Springs are from New Orleans. Have you ever traveled somewhere that made you see your home differently? How? Has that travel changed your beliefs or behavior?
- Millie has interesting adventures with her suitors. What fun adventures have you had on blind dates and with your suitors?
- Millie wears traditional clothing of the day and is sometimes hindered by her long, full skirts. How have fashions changed over the years? What are your favorite fashions? Why?
- Life in the Colorado Territory was difficult in 1863. This book makes like of those difficulties (hunger, sanitation, living rough) and the harsh living conditions. Does this make the book less enjoyable? Believable?
- Because of Lincoln’s proclamation, Millie celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. She writes out formal invitations and cooks traditional foods. How do you celebrate thanksgiving? Are there any special foods you like to make or traditions you follow each year?
- When Millie meets Mary, her colored neighbor, she is remarkably unprejudiced. Did you grow up with prejudices? How did these attitudes affect you? What kind of prejudices have you had to overcome?
- Millie was raised as an orphan in New Orleans by Catholic nuns and later works as a servant for the LeGrand family. How does your upbringing affect the adult you became? What is a major event in your past that made you who you are?
- Millie believes that to be a respectable lady, she must follow strict etiquette rules. Do you feel that is true in today’s society? What society rules do you feel a woman today must follow to earn respect? What rules today might cause her to lose that respect?
- On Christmas day, Millie learns about the French trapper’s tradition of “Kissing Day.” What are your favorite traditions and why? What are some of the craziest holiday traditions you have ever encountered?
- Griswold tells historical stories throughout the Lucky Hat Mine. Share your favorite historical or family story. Why is it your favorite?
- At the end of the story, Dom commits murder. Do you feel this murder is justified? Is killing ever justified? When and why or why not?
Meals to enhance your meeting:
Try (at your own risk) a recipe from The Great Western Cook Book. Millie’s meals of half a Calf’s head and Beef A La Mode can be found at: https://jvlbell.com/1857-great-western-cook-book/#more-97. A digital copy of the entire cookbook can be found at: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/html/books/book_20.cfm