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The Ensemble by Aja Gabel is a stirring debut about passion for music and passage of time. The following book club questions will have spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my preview and review first.
The story is about four young friends navigating the cutthroat world of classical music and their complex relationships with each other as ambition, passion and love intertwine over the course of their lives.
I felt each voice was unique and suited for their ages as the decade went on. Gabel wrote a very realistic tone to their inner commentary and actions. I found myself liking Henry the most and Daniel the least. Spoiler: I didn’t love that Daniel and Brit ended up together, I had hoped she would find someone different and better. But she seemed to love him despite all his flaws and he did mature toward the end. I would have liked to have read a bit more of their progression as a couple. Maybe he’ll finally tone down his mean streak.
Let’s get into the book club questions.
- What did you think of the multi-perspective point of view? Did you feel each character was distinct?
- Why do you think Gabel chose to start the book in the 1990s? How does featuring a story in that era make it different from setting it in present time?
- These characters are constantly drawn to each other, mainly for music but also for a feeling of family. In your opinion, why do you think they couldn’t quit each other?
- Do you think Henry should have gone solo? Why do you think he couldn’t make that move?
- How did becoming a father change Henry and the rest of the group?
- We learn quite a bit about each characters background. Let’s focus on each one—Jana, Brit, Daniel and Henry—and how it shaped who they became?
- Why was Brit so drawn to Daniel? Do you think he truly loved her in the end?
- It was interesting that none of their parents, minus Brit, seemed to understand their child’s passion for classical music. Why do you think that is?
- Have you played an instrument or been part of a group like this?
- Let’s talk about where we see each character go from here. Will Henry ever play again with the group?
- What is the concept of family as it relates to this book?
Next on my TBR (to be read) list
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