Book Club Questions
Developed by Larry Sells
- How is the title of this novel related to the plot?
- Many reviewers have referred to the power and complexity of Hulan’s character, arguing that she is the center of the novel. What aspects of her values and personality contribute to this view? Do you think this interpretation is valid?
- The difficulty of knowing whom you can trust reappears often in Flower Net. How does this problem apply to Hulan? To David? To the novel as a whole?
- Hulan acknowledges to herself that she often represses her deepest emotions and runs away from love. Why does she do this?
- In Flower Net the past is never past; instead, it constantly affects the present. How does this theme apply to:
- Hulan’s role as a fervent young Maoist at Red Soil Farm?
• Hulan’s public denouncing of her father on her return?
• The internment of Vice Minister Liu and Section Chief Zai in the work camp near Red Soil Farm?
• Hulan’s abrupt return to China to help care for her ailing mother, at the same time breaking off communication with David?
- David is convinced that the murders he and Hulan are investigating are connected to the Rising Phoenix gang. Is he right? Why or why not?
- A deep sense of guilt affects Hulan’s feelings and actions. Why and how does that play out?
- David and Hulan’s approaches to crime solving are somewhat different, partly because he is a prosecuting attorney and she is a high level MPS investigator. Describe and explain scenes in the novel that illustrate this point.
- Hulan’s relationship to her mother and father are different and very complex. Why?
- In some ways, Section Chief Zai seems more like a father figure to Hulan than her own father. Is this true? Why? And how is it shown?
- How is Hulan influenced by the Chinese martyr for whom she is named?
- How did the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) affect the main characters in Flower Net?
- How would you describe the relationship between David and Hulan as it evolves in the novel? What are the main obstacles that stand in the way of this relationship?