Let’s dive into my book club questions for The Italian Teacher.
There’s quite a bit of themes: self-perception, the cost of an artistic life, talent and authenticity. What other themes did you pick up on?
Pinch was so excited to become a painter one day but his father ended his dream instantly that one day in New York. Do you believe Bear when he said Pinch had talent but could never be an ‘artist’? Or do you think Bear couldn’t stand the thought of his son having his own success as a painter?
Bear shaped the life of so many people yet after a brief honeymoon period, he treated them all poorly. And in the end, he remained an arrogant, selfish man. Did you think Bear would eventually change or were you not surprised he stayed the same?
What do you think about Marsden’s role in the story?
This novel jumped from various time periods, locations and point of views. Did you enjoy it or find it distracting? Which time period/location was your favorite?
Let’s talk about that twist! Not only was Pinch a talented painter, he was able to convince people his work was Bear’s. What did you think of this and did you at all see it coming?
Despite some heartbreaking elements, it ends on a somewhat hopeful note (Pinch finding his inner talent, his mom recognized for her work). Were you satisfied by the ending?
Why do you think a legacy was so important to these characters? Do you believe that’s human nature?
Another aspect of the book is that art is subjective. What one finds exceptional someone else finds it lacking. When you think about famous paintings, do you believe the attention is always deserved? Why or why not?