John Dollar

John Dollar

Charlotte Lewes, a young Briton newly widowed by the Great War, departs for colonial Burma in 1917 to escape the ruins of her life. As a schoolteacher in Rangoon she is rejuvenated by the sensuous Oriental climate, and she meets John Dollar, a sailor who becomes her passionate love and whose ill-fated destiny inextricably binds her to him.
On a festive seafaring expedition, the tightly knit British community confronts disaster in the shape of an earthquake and ensuing tidal wave. Swept overboard, Charlotte, John Dollar, and eight young girls who are Charlotte's pupils awake on a remote island beach. As they struggle to stay alive, their dependence on John overwhelms him, and an atmosphere of menace and doom builds, culminating in shocking and riveting scenes of both death and survival.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671039554 | 
  • December 1999
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide
The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for discussion for Marianne Wiggins' John Dollar. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. READING GROUP QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
  1. John Dollar traces the fortunes of Charlotte Lewes, a grieving World War I widow who feels like a passionless "ghost" floating through the streets of England. When she comes to teach English children in Rangoon, Burma, Charlotte recovers her sensual nature and experiences a reawakening of love with John Dollar, a sailor with an unknown past. But this novel is hardly a straightforward love story. How would you describe Marianne Wiggins' novel to a friend? What kind of a novel is John Dollar? A satire? A tragedy? In particular, what roles do religion, power, imperialism, and magic play?
  2. The members of the English community in Rangoon devote their lives to creating a facsimile of their English homeland, which to them is "myth and memory, a place more real in microcosm, in its re-creation, than in any actuality." Why does this bewilder and even offend Charlotte, and how is she different from her "mannered, pre-emptive, supercilious" countrymen?
  3. The first time the snake appears in the novel, it is coming through the window of Oopi's room, threatening to slip inside her and kill her. To fen
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About the Author

Marianne Wiggins
Lara Porzac

Marianne Wiggins

Marianne Wiggins is the author of seven books of fiction including John Dollar and Evidence of Things Unseen. She has won an NEA grant, the Whiting Writers’ Award, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and she was a National Book Award finalist in fiction for Evidence of Things Unseen.