Beryl Singleton Bissell


From the author

Discussion Questions for Book Clubs

January 30, 2007

In response to your requests, I have created a list of discussion questions which will appear in the paperback edition of the book to be released April 2007


Why do you think the author wanted to tell this story?

What does the title The Scent of God mean to you as a reader? Do you think this is an appropriate title for this book?

Were there sections of the story that had special impact on you and, if so, what were they and why did they affect you?

In the book, the author mentions four events as triggering her desire to become a nun: the death of the young boy on the beach, the dream after the school retreat, her mother’s intervention in her social life, the illness that triggered her promise to God. Why do you suppose these episodes affected her as they did? Were there other reasons why she would have chosen such a life? Do you think they were valid indicators of such a choice?

The author reveals the delight with which she entered the monastery and the gradual diminishment of this joy as she became anorexic. Do you think it was religious life that triggered her anorexia or might she have encountered similar compulsions had she stayed in the world?

The author reveals herself as immature both spiritually and emotionally – a seventeen-year-old in a thirty-year-old woman. Did you understand that this was “her” story or did you draw the conclusion that most nuns are immature in this way?

What is your impression of cloistered life as presented by the author? Do you think it is a valid way of life in today’s world? Do you relate to her experiences there or did they leave you feeling “outside” the realm of her experience?

Why do you think the author told this story as memoir rather than taking it into fiction? Do you think it could have been better told as fiction?

What did the author learn about her family from the years she spent going back and forth to Puerto Rico? How did her relationship with her parents change?

What were your reactions to the author’s recognition of her sexuality? Of her growing attraction to Padre Vittorio? Do you think she could have or should have made other choices?

Did you have any perceptions about priests and nuns prior to reading this book and, if so, did they change after reading this story? What are your insights into the issue of celibacy and religious life?

Would a reader need to believe in God or to be a Christian to read and enjoy this story?

My Work

The collision of human love and faith
An impetuous move to Lake Superior transforms a life
While writing The Scent of God
"Seven Years in Hell"

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