Protecting Paige
by Deby Eisenberg

Published: 2015-12-24
Paperback : 353 pages
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2016 Bronze IPPY AWARD WINNER “Compelling . . . engaging . . . a moving family saga” Kirkus Reviews From the author of the Book Club favorite, Pictures of the Past, comes another multi-layered novel, ripe with the twists and turns of the best historical fiction.Maxwell was a dashing, bachelor ...
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2016 Bronze IPPY AWARD WINNER “Compelling . . . engaging . . . a moving family saga” Kirkus Reviews From the author of the Book Club favorite, Pictures of the Past, comes another multi-layered novel, ripe with the twists and turns of the best historical fiction.Maxwell was a dashing, bachelor photojournalist, living life on the world’s stage. Paige was his niece, living a privileged, sheltered life. And then, she was orphaned by a random act of violence. Until her famous uncle became her guardian, Paige never knew the pain, power and passion of her heritage, and a family legacy in the headlines, beginning with the 1915 Eastland Disaster on the Chicago River. She never knew the Holocaust was part of her story. Could there be one more family member they could claim? A rich tapestry spanning three generations, Protecting Paige is a compelling saga of a young girl’s coming-of-age and a man’s search for a lost love.It is the still innocent year of 1962, and twelve-year-old Paige Noble awakens in a hospital room in Chicago. She has no memory of the random act of gang violence that has left her injured and orphaned. As she waits for her famous uncle to come for her, she develops a bond with Gladys, a comforting black nurse’s aide, unaware that her son was involved in the crime. Soon, the charismatic Maxwell Noble, a celebrated photographer, is located in Europe and rushes to her side. Although he has led a globetrotting bachelor life, he surprises Paige by embracing his new responsibility. But Maxwell struggles to hide his long-time obsession with Paige’s mother, his enchanting French sister-in-law. When Paige discovers her mother’s hidden diary, the secrets of the past begin to surface. Paige and her uncle embark on a journey to France, retracing events of WWII and the Holocaust, in an effort to find the one remaining family member they could claim. Her parents were always intent on protecting Paige, but Maxwell allows her to embrace the Jewish history and the heritage that she was denied. A beautiful and moving story about a young girl’s coming-of-age and a man’s quest for a lost love, Protecting Paige combines family drama and fascinating historical detail to create a rich, thought-provoking world.

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Chapter 1
Sole Survivor

I went to live as a ward in my uncle’s home in the year 1962. My uncle was the celebrated photographer, Maxwell Noble. You probably will know of his work, even if you do not recognize the name. His pictures were covers of the most famous publications of the decades; his photo essays filled the pages of Look and Life magazines. Along with the great names like Margaret Bourke White and Alfred Eisenstaedt, he defined the field of photojournalism, covering all areas of the human-interest spectrum, from simple, engaging scenes of everyday life to the cruel depictions of man-made and natural disasters. Perhaps he would not have made a name for himself in the modern era, when it is necessary for journalists to be “embedded” with the troops. But even today, he would be the one to best document the aftermath of any tragedy, to give names and faces to the overwhelming numbers of any catastrophe. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. The bond between Maxwell and Paige was incredibly strong. How could Maxwell emerge as an appropriate and even wonderful guardian for Paige, when he had often been described as a “bachelor vagabond?” Paige’s own mother “had referred to Maxwell as a child, himself.”
2. If this is a novel of an adolescent’s journey for Paige, with its accompanying theme of the “loss of innocence,” what were examples of this throughout the story?
3. The plot of Protecting Paige centers on three venues and time periods: Chicago in the 1960s and l970s; Chicago and Lake Geneva in 1915; and France, during WWII. What parallels can be drawn between people and events for these three different eras?
4. Compare and contrast Celine and Cherise in their coping and survival strategies. Was one a stronger individual than the other?
5. How would you describe Maxwell’s character? Could you forgive his betrayal, even though it tortured him?
6. Maxwell and Paige searched for one more family member they could embrace. With today’s popular websites such as ancestry.com, people are connecting more and more with past generations. What interesting, or even fascinating, connections have you uncovered?
7. Although Florie Bronstein did not emerge as a major character, why was she nevertheless an important figure?
8. With the discovery of Celine’s diary, Maxwell and Paige’s emotional journey turned into a literal one. How did this impact their lives and set the course of their futures? What else was uncovered in the chest?
9. The author has used a variety of narrative styles and moved from past tense to present tense at times throughout the novel. She felt each change worked best to enhance the story. Did you find this confusing or agree that it helped to draw you into the story and engage with the characters and plot line?
10. A title is so often an author’s key to interpreting a novel. Trace references to Protecting Paige throughout the story.

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