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Discussion Questions for
Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn

If your group has thought of questions that raised interesting discussions, please submit them! 

  • Anne’s character described herself as “stubborn”, “excitable”, “willful” and “petulant”. She was also painfully insecure. Were her motivations, reactions, choices and decisions throughout the book understandable based on her temperament? Did you like her? Why or why not?

  • One of Anne Boleyn’s legacies was the Church of England. Had she not married Henry VIII, England might have continued to be Roman Catholic. What kinds of thoughts, feelings and questions about religion would you imagine Anne had, knowing she was the primary cause of this social upheaval -- that Henry VIII was breaking with Rome and introducing a new religion primarily to legitimize his marriage to her? Do you think “Threads’” depiction of her confusion, panic and crisis of faith was true to what the real Anne Boleyn might have experienced?

  • Henry VIII had married Anne solely to produce a male heir. Anne’s success at doing this was critical, but completely outside of her control. When Elizabeth was born, Anne felt no maternal love toward her, and in fact noted that she allowed someone to take the baby to her wet nurse “while the servants gathered up the linens and whisked away the bloody mess I’d made.” The “bloody mess” refers not only to the linens, but to the infant Elizabeth. How did you react to Anne’s cold feelings toward her daughter, and her later reflections on those feelings? How did you react to her later “punishment" for having failed her daughter?

  • Instead of dramatizing her plight during the execution scene, Anne focuses on very personal, sometimes practical, sometimes fanciful or mundane things. Did that scene increase or decrease the sense of tragedy?

  • The book contains a number of “threads”, which tie the various situations, lifetimes and people together throughout time. Some of these are important, such as Anne’s sixth finger. Some are very small, like the recurring reference to the color vermilion. Can you identify any others?

  • Each of the main characters represents a different form of love and a different type of relationship. What are they?

  • Did you catch the identity of Anne’s fool in a previous lifetime? (Note: The fool was her son Peter, in Flanders.) Were you able to identify Maggie, the thread of that relationship, and its significance? (Note: Maggie was Princess Mary, identifiable by her attempts to train dogs to do tricks.) If anyone has read “Threads” twice, did they catch details and insights into the characters they may have missed the first time?

  • What were the primary and secondary reasons for Anne's experiences in Flanders? Can you think of more than two reasons? What did a nearly impoverished, happy, fulfilling life teach her, once she'd experienced an unhappy life amid untold riches and power as Anne Boleyn?

  • What are your thoughts about “The Voice”? Did you find its guidance of Anne to be sound?

  • What changes did you notice in the narration style as Anne moved through her various lifetimes? Was the narration appropriate to the character?

  • Did your feelings toward any of the characters change after you learned their experiences and motivations from earlier lifetimes? Who and why?

  • As Anne’s story and her spiritual development move forward, her memories move further backward until she finds herself facing the root of most of her problems, in ancient Egypt. By that time, she is ready to confront those problems and deal with them. Did you feel that her past life memories and lessons were effectively matched to the situations she was addressing in her lifetime as Anne Boleyn? Did you like any particular lifetime more than the others?

  • Compare the way Anne is during each of her various lifetimes. In what ways does she progress from lifetime to lifetime, and what specific lessons does she learn? What core characteristics remain unchanged from lifetime to lifetime? What characteristics changed or were suppressed because of circumstances?

  • When Anne suffered grief that she clearly earned, did you feel satisfaction in her punishment, or empathy for her pain?

  • “Threads” is less a story about two historical characters than it is a story about forgiving the unforgivable. It follows the course of Anne’s efforts to forgive Henry from the moment of her execution until 400 years later, when she encounters him again, and is finally faced with deciding whether or not to forgive him. Do you think Anne’s reluctance to forgive is understandable? Do you think she ultimately succeeds and forgives Henry? 

  • What kind of future do you see for Anne and Henry, based on the issues they still have between them, and the kind of people they are at the time they meet again in 1970?

  • What kind of foreshadowing throughout the book has given you clues about what Anne can expect from her modern day lifetime?