The Silence of Trees


1) Stories are an integral part of The Silence of Trees. What are some of the stories that Nadya recounts and what is their importance to the larger story?

2) Review the vorozhka’s prediction? Did it come true? Discuss the role and importance of dreams, signs, and omens in the book.

3) What are the important trees in the book? Why do you think the author chose to title her book, The Silence of Trees?

4) Discuss the dynamics of each of Nadya’s romantic relationships. How are they similar and different?

5) Female relationships figure prominently in The Silence of Trees. Discuss the dynamics of Nadya’s relationship with her Baba Hanusia, Mama Paraska, Ana, Katya, and Lesya.

6) In The Silence of Trees, we watch Nadya grow from adolescence to old age. Discuss how she changes and matures. What lessons does she learn as a young woman and as an older woman.

7) If you had to pick one word to describe her life from the time she left home until she receives the first empty envelope, what word would you choose? How does Nadya’s life change after she receives the envelope?

8) How might Nadya’s life have been different if she had fled alone without Stephan after visiting the vorozhka? What if she had stayed in the village?

9) Is it important that Nadya is a peasant and cleaning lady, not a teacher or professional woman? How does her status shape her life and experience of the world? With what result?

10) Is the story told in chronological order? Why do you think the author chose to write it in this way?

11) What does Nadya care most deeply about in her life? How does this shape her character and world view?

12) What is the significance of the various spirits who appear to Nadya in the story?

13) What is the story’s central conflict? Is it between characters, a character and society, a character and nature? Is it internal—an emotional struggle within the character? Does the conflict create tension, even suspense, to hold your interest?

14) Can you identify any symbols in the book—people, actions or objects that stand for something greater than themselves?

15) Which character do you most identify with and why?

16) Discuss the significance of Nadya’s acts of letting go of the past. How might you have acted differently?

17) Each of the three sections begins with an epigraph. Discuss their significance.

18) Who did you think sent the first letter? Were you surprised to find out that it was from Nadya’s sister? What other letters are important in the story?

19) When they are talking on the telephone, Halya tells Nadya that Stephan told her that “he never forgot the smell of the raspberries.” What do you think he meant?

20) If you were going to have another character from The Silence of Trees tell us the story, whom would you choose? How might the story be different?