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Maggie

The Sequel to The Dead Don't Dance
Paperback
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Description

"When Maggie opened her eyes that New Year's Day some seventeen months ago, I felt like I could see again. The fog lifted off my soul, and for the first time since our son had died and she had gone to sleep—some four months, sixteen days, eighteen hours, and nineteen minutes earlier—I took a breath deep enough to fill both my lungs."

Life began again for Dylan Styles when his beloved wife Maggie awoke from a coma. A coma brought on by the intense two-day labor that resulted in heartbreaking loss. In this poignant love story that is redolent with Southern atmosphere, Dylan and Maggie must come to terms with their past before they can embrace their future.

Reading Guides

  1. In The Dead Don't Dance, Maggie Styles spent four months in a coma after she and her husband Dylan lost their first son. In Maggie, she's awake, and her desire to have a child is as strong as ever. How does motherhood define Maggie in this novel? Do you think she is obsessed with having children, or does the novel simply show the honest feelings of many women? Have you or someone you know ever struggled with fertility? If so, how does that experience relate to Maggie's?
     
  2. Gardening could act as a metaphor for Maggie in the novel. What does her love of plants represent at the beginning of the book? Does this change by the end of the novel?
     
  3. Maggie and Dylan deal with grief and loss in different ways. Describe these differences. In the midst of her emotional struggles and hormonal changes, does Maggie's behavior ever cross the line, or would any woman who has experienced such loss act similarly? How does Maggie's character change over the course of the novel?
     
  4. The deep relationship between Dylan and Maggie is the central force of the novel. When asked if Maggie could hear him while she was in the coma, Dylan says, "Of course she could. Love has its own communication. . . . It is written on our souls, scripted by the finger of God." How is this godly love displayed in the novel? Are you, or have you ever been, in a relationship of this kind?
     
  5. Adoption seems like a good solution for Maggie and Dylan, but the adoption agency sees things differently. Why did the agency turn them down at first? Why did they change their minds during the appeal? After reading about the couple's experience, what impression do you have about adoption? How does that impression illuminate Maggie and Dylan's situation in particular?
     
  6. Pastor John Lovett's former life of crime involved three other men. Two of them--Anton and Felix--are covered in tattoos, which reminds Pastor John of Queequeg in Moby Dick. The last names of these twin brothers are never given. The third convict, James Whittaker III, is a former Hollywood pyrotechnics expert who earned the nickname Ghost in prison. What do these descriptions tell you about the men?
     
  7. John Wayne is mentioned more than once in the novel. As kids, Amos and Dylan play cowboys and act "like John Wayne in True Grit." In the present time of the story, Dylan watches The Shootist as The Duke, who has terminal cancer in real life, plays a famed gunfighter with terminal cancer. Why is The Shootist particularly relevant? How does The Duke's death reflect Dylan's emotions at this point? What values does John Wayne represent, and how do those relate to the story?
     
  8. At one point, Dylan says about Maggie: "Just because something is broken doesn't mean it's no good. Doesn't mean you throw it away. . . . I can love broken." In what ways is Maggie "broken"? When Pastor John reads from the Bible "Behold, I make all things new," why does Maggie leave the church? In what ways does the couple try to make a whole from the broken pieces? Are they successful?
     
  9. Dylan writes two stories about what happened during Maggie's hospitalization and coma. Describe the differences between the two. Why does Dylan decide to give Maggie the "watered-down, G-rated version"? Do you agree with his decision? Why or why not?
     
  10. When Maggie loses the twins, she isolates herself more and more. At one point, she tells Dylan that he can't know how she feels and throws a bedside table across the room. Do you think Dylan is unsupportive of Maggie? Does he grow more or less supportive over the course of the novel? Is there any way he could have shared the stress of her experiences more fully, or can he, as a man, never really understand?
     
  11. Maggie is a distinctly southern novel. In what ways does the southern setting propel this story? How does the small town of Digger and the mythical Salkehatchie act as characters in and of themselves? How do food, church, dogs, guns, clothing, and automobiles signify the south in this novel?
     
  12. The river plays an important role in this story, as it did in The Dead Don't Dance. Before Maggie's coma, she and Dylan floated down the river on the raft and discovered a rare iris that can only grow in a particular spot--where the tannic swamp water meets fresh spring water. What was their journey into the heart of the swamp like? What does this location represent in the story? Why did the author choose an iris rather than some other flower?
     
  13. What impact does the past have in this novel? Dylan's grandfather said that farmers "cut the soil and get rid of what remains of the old. . . . The past fertilizes the future." How does this relate to Maggie and Dylan's present situation? To what extent do characters in this story seem able-or unable-to break free of their past?
     
  14. Through Bryce, the novel takes a hard look at the role of human sacrifice and the loss of life in war. As part of the Marine's elite Delta Force in the Vietnam War, he was a "one-man killing machine" who became "a highly-decorated veteran." Bryce tells Dylan about the loss of his Vietnamese wife and son during the war. What are your thoughts about Bryce's military experience? Ultimately, how do you view Bryce-as a killer, a hero, or something else?
     
  15. Maggie tackles the nature of loss. In chapter twenty-nine, Dylan notices the utter emptiness in Maggie's eyes: "Something had severed. . . . When she looked at me, she was looking at the world beyond me where her dreams once lived." He then asks, "What can heal the human soul?" Have you ever experienced loss this deep? What do you think can heal the human soul? Do Maggie and Dylan ever heal?
     
  16. Discuss the theme of forgiveness in the novel. Who forgives whom? What does Pastor John say about forgiveness in particular?
     
  17. Children and childhood are themes in Maggie. What particular meaning does the novel ascribe to them? Why is it significant that a boy in Spiderman pajamas with a plastic squirt gun tells Dylan that the convicts left with a canoe?
     
  18. Integrity--keeping your word and telling the truth--are important character traits to Dylan. How are these traits exhibited--or not exhibited--in the novel? What significance do the following words from Dylan's grandfather have in the story: "There's just one problem with pulling the wool over someone's eyes. And it surfaces whenever they take it off."
     
  19. The novel mentions the "fight of good versus evil." What does this battle look like in the story, and what meaning does it have?
     
  20. Dylan and Amos discuss the need to protect their wives from the former convicts, and Dylan is troubled that he cannot protect his wife from the emotional pain that "threatened to kill her." Which threat do you think affects Dylan the most, and why? What do these suggest about the differences between men and women, if anything?
     
  21. Just as in The Dead Don't Dance, blood is a recurring motif in Maggie. Name the references to blood and discuss their relevance. The concluding reference occurs when Maggie begins her cycle. What kind of future do you envision for Maggie and Dylan? For Amos, Amanda, Little Dylan, and their coming baby?

 

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Maggie : The Sequel to The Dead Don't Dance, Charles Martin

Details

"When Maggie opened her eyes that New Year's Day some seventeen months ago, I felt like I could see again. The fog lifted off my soul, and for the first time since our son had died and she had gone to sleep—some four months, sixteen days, eighteen hours, and nineteen minutes earlier—I took a breath deep enough to fill both my lungs."

Life began again for Dylan Styles when his beloved wife Maggie awoke from a coma. A coma brought on by the intense two-day labor that resulted in heartbreaking loss. In this poignant love story that is redolent with Southern atmosphere, Dylan and Maggie must come to terms with their past before they can embrace their future.

More Information

Length 322 Pages
Publication Date September 19, 2006
Company
  • Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10 1595540555
ISBN-13 9781595540553
Height 8.7"
Width 5.7"