Reflection & Discussion Starters:
For Elise: Unveiling the Forgotten Woman on the Criddle Homestead
Creative nonfiction (also known as literary or narrative nonfiction) is a nonfiction story told with fiction elements, such as dialogue, setting, scenes, characterization (of real people), and so on. That’s where the creative part is supposed to come in, not in the facts, but in HOW the facts are revealed. It is a true story with emphasis on both truth and story.
- How did you feel while reading this book?
- Was there a scene that you found particularly touching?
- Was there a scene that sums up the central dilemma of the book?
- Does For Elise help to illuminate the thousands of lonely women pioneers whose often thwarted dreams helped built our country? Was there something exceptional about Elise’s sacrifices?
- Photographs and pictures are an integral part of the book. How do they serve as windows into Elise’s world? Did the photographs impact your reading of the story, and your connection to the characters?
- In the prologue and epilogue the author introduces herself, letting readers know who she is and what this story means to her. Remaining outside the story, her goal was to draw the reader into Elise’s life with its thwarted potential to reveal her character. Describe Elise.
- How would you describe Mrs. Criddle?
- Percy Criddle is the villain of the book. What was the worst thing he did? Did he have any redeeming virtues? How would you describe his personality? Have you ever known a person like him?
- Reflect on the freedoms and opportunities which are available to Canadian women today as compared with Elise’s time. Did this story sharpen your perspective on a culture which seemed to enable a male such as Percy?
- For Elise is a woman’s story set in the 1882-1903 homesteading era of Manitoba. Does this story help to explain why there are few non-fiction historical accounts of women?
- Were there secrets rarely or never mentioned in your family? How do we accept a person in our ancestry who did nasty things?
- What question would you like to ask the author?