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The Book of Lost Friends: A Novel
by Lisa Wingate

Published: 2020-04-07
Hardcover : 400 pages
23 members reading this now
78 clubs reading this now
6 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 3 of 3 members
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a new novel inspired by little-known historical events: a dramatic story of three young women on a journey in search of family amidst the destruction of the post-Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who ...
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Introduction

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a new novel inspired by little-known historical events: a dramatic story of three young women on a journey in search of family amidst the destruction of the post-Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who rediscovers their story and its vital connection to her own students’ lives.

In her distinctive voice, Lisa Wingate brings to life startling stories from actual “Lost Friends” advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold off.

Louisiana, 1875: In the tumultuous aftermath of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation; Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister; and Hannie, Lavinia's former slave. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following dangerous roads rife with ruthless vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and eight siblings before slavery's end, the pilgrimage westward reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the seemingly limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.  

Louisiana, 1987: For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt--until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, seems suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled live oaks and run-down plantation homes lies the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. Lisa Wingate brings to life stories from actual “Lost Friends” advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as newly freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold away. Had you heard of the real “Lost Friends” ads before? What did you think of the words written so long ago? What did you learn about the Reconstruction era through this novel? ?
2. The Book of Lost Friends is a story of remarkable women who built legacies we benefit from today. There are many women from the past, like Hannie, who do not often make it into our history books. Who is one woman from history that you greatly admire and think that the world should know more about? ?
3. What lessons does Benny learn from her students? Do you think her students change her? ?
4. The town of Augustine is controlled by a powerful family with secrets. Have you ever learned of a secret in your own or someone else’s family? What was the reason for it, and what were the results of it coming out? ?
5. Hannie, Juneau Jane, and Lavinia are an unlikely trio when they start on their quest. How does their journey shape them as they come of age? How do Hannie and Juneau grow during their quest? What does each learn from the other?
6. Elam Salter is a character with a larger-than-life reputation. What is his role in the story? Why does Hannie find it hard to trust him?
7. Symbolism is used in this novel in a number of ways, including: the single ladybug, Hannie’s blue beads, and the church where the main characters hide. What do you think these symbols mean? Did you notice any other symbolism in the novel?

8. In what ways do Benny and Nathan help each other move forward?

9. What do you think Benny is going to do at the end of the novel?

10. A volunteer at the Historic New Orleans Collection sparked the idea for this novel when she wrote to Lisa about the Lost Friends database. Why do you think history, particularly that preserved in the voices of those who lived the experience, matters?

11. Visit the Lost Friends database. Choose one ad to share with another member of your book club.

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

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by KM (see profile) 11/13/20

 
by erowen (see profile) 09/28/20

 
  "The Story of People's Lives is History"by brnoze (see profile) 09/04/20

I listened to the audio book of The Book of Lost Friends and found the readers voices brought a wonderful layer of depth to the characters. The author's words and the vast research into the characters... (read more)

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