Bookgasm: A Glamorous Illusions Discussion

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It was my first time to encounter a book that has guide questions for discussions and reader's reflection to the story. It is a good idea since it will help the reader to participate, to understand more the story, and to eventually gain the deeper meaning the book wanted to tell its readers. I remember my English teacher when I was in fourth year high school. She would always give as guide questions per chapter of Les Miserables so that we can associate the story in our lives and at the same, have a full grasp of the tale. Aside from my review, I'm kind of excited to share my thoughts regarding some certain situations in the book.
1. In the beginning, Cora knows that something's wrong even before she reaches the farm. On board the ship, the passengers discuss how the families of the Titanic's victims awoke the night the ship sank, aware that something bad had happened (actual, historic accounts verify this.) Has anything like that happened to you or someone you know? Discuss.
Not really in those kind of situations. But sometimes there is a gut-feeling whenever I feel something is wrong especially towards people. Maybe I got this from my mom since my older sister has that, too. I always get a sign whenever people bad mouths me or I know when I am being talked about negatively. I would always know and end up staring at them. Their actions will affirm my hunch.

2. Cora has several blows that rip apart the only identity she's ever known--as a daughter, as a potential teacher, as a poor girl helping to work the land. She's thrust into a whole new world and forced to examine what really makes her who she is. What do you think was the most powerful realization she had about her identity?
I think the most powerful realization she had was when she was able to compromise the idea of being both a Diehl and a Kensington. She was afraid to be something she is not when she is a Kensington and she was scared to forget who she really is when she was a Diehl--if she changed herself even just a bit. But she embraced being a Kensington because she also loved the glamour and the social scene. She knew herself well more than others that even if changes will occur to her identity, whether it may be influenced by the people around her or the situations she's currently in as a Kensington, she knew that she will always be Cora and she will never forget the values she have learned as a Diehl.

3. Have you ever suffered a blow that made you wonder if you know who you were? Or a transforming experience that changed who you were in some ways, either externally or internally? What was that life event, and how did it impact and change you?
Yes, I have. Externally, I told myself that I should feel good and confident on how I look. I've always loved to dress up and feel pretty but I was always so scared of what people may think because they were used to seeing me in a simple shirt, pants or shorts, and only a lip gloss. There was also a time wherein I feel so insecure about myself. So I started to fix myself on my last year in college. I took it one step at a time, from putting on light make-up to fixing my hair to putting more girly accessories. Then eventually evolve to what I look now, what my style today is. Hence, this fashion and book blog. Internally, I'm still in a verge of finding myself and what I really want to be and what I really want to do in my life.

4. What does living as a "redeemed sinner" mean to you?
I think a redeemed sinner is someone who had already asked for forgiveness for every wrong he/she have done in his/her life, whether he/she had a turning point in his/her life or not. He/she had started a new life doing everything he/she can to do good and to fixed all that he/she have done in the past. I think every single one of us are redeemed sinners as long as we walk with God.

5. What's the nicest hotel you've ever stayed in? Did the stay leave you satisfied or wanting more?
I can't seem to decide which one since I love both. It's Sofitel Manila and Baiyoke Sky Hotel - Bangkok. Both made me wish I could stay longer so that I could continue having the soothing, relaxing and luxurious feeling I experienced with their service.

6. Cora seems to be resisting Pierre's advances, even though he seems like a Prince Charming character. Why do you think that is?
I think Pierre reminds her so much of what this new world entails to her. She knew that if she said yes to Pierre, this glamorous life is the path she should take and she was scared that she might forget herself while she's in it. I also think that she is still hung up with Will and she wants to know if there is really something between them or if it is just a one-way illusion she had because of their friendship.

7. If you were in her shoes, would you do the same? Or is there a part of you that wants to be a princess, swept off her feet? Even if you're married now, what drives the Prince Charming fantasy? Discuss.
I would do the same because I will not rush myself to something, especially a commitment, just because it would address my princess fantasy though that really is a tempting option. But it will all boil down to the feelings I have towards him--if I really love him or if it is just an infatuation; if I was just overwhelmed to all these fantasies Pierre is giving me. I am a hopeless romantic so I will choose love over social standing. But I am a hypocrite if I say that there is not a part of me that do not want the princess treatment. That Prince Charming fantasy means a fairy tale ending which entails a good life--possibly luxurious or glamorous. It is a life where you can get anything and everything you want without even moving from your seat. It gives security and happiness material things can give. Moreover, as cliche as it may sound, a fairy tale ending means a happy ending which we all wanted because it is our escape from all the pain and trials we could experience. We always think that that kind of fantasy is a perfect one. Little did we know that it's all just the same. I'm not married by the way. Haha.

8. Keeping up appearances regardless of actual feelings, was important to many of the characters in this novel. Why do we do that in real life?
I think because we want to please everybody even if we know that in reality we can't. We do not want people to see our flaws that's why we always want to keep up with this mask or as the author say, the glamorous illusion, so that others would see all and only our good points. We feel embarrassed and bare naked whenever we show our true selves outside our comfort zone because we know that someone will judge us based on these flaws. Moreover, we know that once were judged by these, we feel ruined.

9. Cora comes to several key realizations about her faith in this novel. The cathedral scene was the crux. Have you thought about these things yourself? Did that scene move you spiritually? If so, how?
Though I can't recall what exactly Cora said or did, I was moved because it was about her faith and trust with God. There is always a time in our lives wherein we converse with Him because we had these realizations that we owe to him.

10. What defines you or makes you who you are today? Did you ever have to let go of something, consciously deciding it did not define you?
Like what the book I'm reading now said, what defines a person is not only the people he/she acquaints himself/herself with and what he/she does with her life, but also the values and lessons one have acquired from every single experience he/she had. So I think that's my identity, that's what basically makes me or made me who I am now. I have not really reached that point but I have let go of some people who I thought I don't need in my life to define me.

11. List the top three places you'd like to see in the world, and, if you wish, why you want to go there.
I would love to see Egypt, Greece and France. I want to see the different architectures, arts and landmarks. At the same time, I want to experience their culture.

12. Most of us spend the majority of our lives close to home. What keeps us from a sense of adventure? What keeps us from exploring and expanding our world? Examine both the practical and the mental/emotional barriers.
I think it's because we feel safe in our comfort zone. We don't need to feel scared and uncomfortable at home. We can easily express ourselves without displeasing others because we know that our family will accept us no matter what. Our family is our wall that protects us; that wall that we lean on to whenever we fail. Despite having those wild adventures in our dreams, we are just too scared of what will become of us. We don't know what to expect and see once we go out there. There are so many dangers out there, especially nowadays, that a lot of us are scared to explore and embrace our fears.

What are your thoughts?

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Style Reader by Arra Abella is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Images and text are copyrighted, unless stated otherwise. Therefore, if you want to use any of these, feel free to contact me.

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