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Iron House
by John Hart

Published:
Paperback : 0 pages
17 members reading this now
12 clubs reading this now
6 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 5 of 6 members
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Click on the ORANGE Amazon Button for Book Description & Pricing Info

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Discussion Questions

1. The story begins with a vivid depiction of Michael and Julian's childhood at the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, and yet we don't find out the truth about Abigail's childhood until the climax of the book. How did your assumptions about Abigail change as the truth unfolded?

2. The crux of this story is Michael's outlook on fatherhood as a new beginning, a chance for happiness and a moral life previously unavailable to him. Do you think this kind of event can fundamentally change a person – both within the context of the book and in your own experience?

3. In his determination to protect Abigail, Jessup is willing to do almost anything, up to and including breaking the law. Is he right to do so? Why does Jessup care so deeply for Abigail?

4. Throughout the book several characters are haunted by things they've done in the past, though they often acted at the coercion of others and not of their own volition. How does this change your judgment of that character's actions? Examples: Julian is pushed to the brink by the torments of unmonitored and violent bullies at Iron House. Michael finds the only father figure he'll ever know, but is forced to take the lives of others in order to win his approval.

5. There are few characters in Iron House who had the privilege of a traditional childhood. How are the main characters shaped in different ways by their pasts?

6. Explore the different parent-child relationships in the story. How does each relationship evolve throughout the course of the novel? Are there any "good" parents in this story?

7. Given the things he's done, is Michael capable of a moral existence? Does he have a religious faith? Was he ever a moral man? Is he, indeed, more than the things he's done?

8. Psychological disorder figures prominently in Iron House. Some characters are aided by others who recognize their issues and attempt to help them. But there are also cases of unchecked malady, as in Jimmy's uncontrollable violence. How does psychological disorder function in the larger story?

9. Jimmy's feelings for Michael are powerful yet ambiguous. What does he really feel and why?

10. There are significant differences between the way Abigail, Jessup, Julian, and Victorine treat psychological disease. Is this a reflection of the respective age of the characters, and the perception of psychological disorder in which each generation was raised?

11. Was Michael right to let Arabella Jax live? What were his reasons for doing so and were they morally correct?

12. Given all that's transpired, can Michael and Elena be truly happy together?

13. If you've read some or all of John Hart's earlier books, how do you see Iron House in relation to them?

14. How do you feel about the resolution of Iron House?
--From the publisher
. The story begins with a vivid depiction of Michael and Julian's childhood at the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, and yet we don't find out the truth about Abigail's childhood until the climax of the book. How did your assumptions about Abigail change as the truth unfolded?
2. The crux of this story is Michael's outlook on fatherhood as a new beginning, a chance for happiness and a moral life previously unavailable to him. Do you think this kind of event can fundamentally change a person – both within the context of the book and in your own experience?
3. In his determination to protect Abigail, Jessup is willing to do almost anything, up to and including breaking the law. Is he right to do so? Why does Jessup care so deeply for Abigail?
4. Throughout the book several characters are haunted by things they've done in the past, though they often acted at the coercion of others and not of their own volition. How does this change your judgment of that character's actions? Examples: Julian is pushed to the brink by the torments of unmonitored and violent bullies at Iron House. Michael finds the only father figure he'll ever know, but is forced to take the lives of others in order to win his approval.
5. There are few characters in Iron House who had the privilege of a traditional childhood. How are the main characters shaped in different ways by their pasts?
6. Explore the different parent-child relationships in the story. How does each relationship evolve throughout the course of the novel? Are there any "good" parents in this story?
7. Given the things he's done, is Michael capable of a moral existence? Does he have a religious faith? Was he ever a moral man? Is he, indeed, more than the things he's done?
8. Psychological disorder figures prominently in Iron House. Some characters are aided by others who recognize their issues and attempt to help them. But there are also cases of unchecked malady, as in Jimmy's uncontrollable violence. How does psychological disorder function in the larger story?
9. Jimmy's feelings for Michael are powerful yet ambiguous. What does he really feel and why?
10. There are significant differences between the way Abigail, Jessup, Julian, and Victorine treat psychological disease. Is this a reflection of the respective age of the characters, and the perception of psychological disorder in which each generation was raised?
11. Was Michael right to let Arabella Jax live? What were his reasons for doing so and were they morally correct?
12. Given all that's transpired, can Michael and Elena be truly happy together?
13. If you've read some or all of John Hart's earlier books, how do you see Iron House in relation to them?
14. How do you feel about the resolution of Iron House?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from author John Hart:

Dear book clubbers,

I was so pleased with my last novel that I thought I would never top it. THE LAST CHILD won a second Edgar Award and spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list. It felt like a lot to live up to, but I’d decided early to write a book that was different from everything I’d done before. All of my previous books (THE KING OF LIES, DOWN RIVER, THE LAST CHILD) were about normal people looking for strength, about small people finding the power to overcome whatever horrible thing I’d inflicted on their lives. I’d never written a protagonist with a skill set, never created a man who knew from the start exactly what he was willing to do and, more importantly, how to do it. And I really wanted to write that guy! A character that was strong, confident, dangerous.

IRON HOUSE is what came from that, and while it differs from THE LAST CHILD, it has all the things that made the other books work – loyalty and fear, courage and faith and betrayal. The tension is more physical, the violence more overt; but it’s a combination that works, a full-on thriller with the same deep emotional core. The book is a thriller, no doubt, but you will also find much to discuss. I hope you enjoy.

Sincerely,

John Hart

Note from author John Hart:

Dear book clubbers,

I was so pleased with my last novel that I thought I would never top it. THE LAST CHILD won a second Edgar Award and spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list. It felt like a lot to live up to, but I’d decided early to write a book that was different from everything I’d done before. All of my previous books (THE KING OF LIES, DOWN RIVER, THE LAST CHILD) were about normal people looking for strength, about small people finding the power to overcome whatever horrible thing I’d inflicted on their lives. I’d never written a protagonist with a skill set, never created a man who knew from the start exactly what he was willing to do and, more importantly, how to do it. And I really wanted to write that guy! A character that was strong, confident, dangerous.

IRON HOUSE is what came from that, and while it differs from THE LAST CHILD, it has all the things that made the other books work – loyalty and fear, courage and faith and betrayal. The tension is more physical, the violence more overt; but it’s a combination that works, a full-on thriller with the same deep emotional core. The book is a thriller, no doubt, but you will also find much to discuss. I hope you enjoy.

Sincerely,

John Hart

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by Ljwagoner (see profile) 05/21/17

This book is not my typical genre- However, this book was a compelling, fast moving read. Pretty gory in places, but the twists and turns will keep you reading to the end.

 
  "WOW factor!"by miamikels (see profile) 04/21/14

Twist and turns, unexpected expectations, characters and writing style is flawless! Page turner!
We met twice a month just to finish this one!

 
  "Iron House is a good read"by dasimcox (see profile) 09/25/13

Very exciting story line that was extremely fast paced making it a great choice for book clubs. So much was jam packed into this book but it was very easy to read and understand, enabling great discussions... (read more)

 
  "Creative story"by ecoalson (see profile) 04/19/12

I liked the book for a quick personal read that was a change of pace for me. Wouldn't recommend as a club choice though.

 
  "Iron House"by emptynester (see profile) 02/13/12

Everybody mostly liked it, It wasn't his best book, It was ok. Not everybody was convinced on the story line.

 
  "Intense, gripping story"by dawneegirl (see profile) 11/30/11

This book is a little out of the genre that I normally read. While I do enjoy a good mystery, sometimes I choose to read more lighthearted books, thinking that sometimes I have enough angst ... (read more)

 
  "It will suck you in"by ebach (see profile) 09/01/11

IRON HOUSE by John Hart begins with Michael and his pregnant lover, Elena, but soon switches to flashback so we understand what he means when he worries that she doesn’t really know him or... (read more)

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