Eastern Caribbean: Sylvan’s Story
Discussion guide

This probably won’t make much sense until after you have read the story…

What is your reaction to the portrayal of sensuality and sex? Did you find it overly graphic, refreshingly frank, amusing, arousing? Do you find yourself wishing to engage activities as the characters did? There are more sex scenes in this book than most—did they get repetitious? Did you read through each one or did you skip ahead? Do you think sex is different at sixty? How so?

Did you find the sex tame, honest, kinky, outrageous, unrealistic? Is it realistic for people to apparently have so few inhibitions as these characters? Is rough sex realistic for sixty-year-old lovers? How far do you think they would go toward full-blown BDSM?

Do you agree with the rules of kink as Marv presented them? What did he miss? Do you believe they would work? He calls them operating principles, not rules: what does he mean?

The characters talk about finding sensuality in nature, music and art among other things, do you believe this is true? If so, how does this happen for you? Can rivers and sunsets be erotic?

Do you believe that the characters are in their sixties? In what ways has the author presented the character’s sexuality to reflect their age? Do you feel like that? Does it make a difference that you are older or younger than the characters?

Are the characters well developed and complete? Do you like them? Are they realistic: if you invited them to dinner what would you serve? A burger and beer? Filet mignon and Cabernet Sauvignon? Could you carry on a conversation with them?

Do you believe the character’s emotional and psychological states? Do you empathize with them?

Sylvan teaches Marv how to love. Does she do a good job? How would you change the method that she used? Do you believe that a man can learn from a single event like that?

Did Sylvan need to be punished? Was it really punishment? Do you believe that a spanking can be arousing? Would you like to receive a spanking that’s arousing? Would you like to give one?

Have you read the story from the perspective of the character of the sex opposite yours? If you have, was it interesting and what you expected? If you haven’t, what do you think might be different? Do you think people of that gender honestly think that way?

Was the story engrossing? Did you have trouble putting it down? Why did you want to continue reading (or not)? Was it inspiring in some way? What are you going to do to implement your new ideas?

Would you recommend this book to a friend? What would they have to be like to enjoy the book? If you would not recommend it to someone, what would they be like? Do you think the story could be told in a ‘PG-13’ version? An ‘R’ version? Could the author have written the story without any sex scenes? Would it be the same story?

Did you feel that the author had some agenda or message to communicate along with the story? Did it make a difference to you while reading? Do you agree with it? If you do, how will you work to make it part of your life?

The author states, in effect, that desire is a central component to the enjoyment of sex. Do you agree? How was it used in the story? Can desire be manipulated: created, expanded or directed? How is desire expressed by the characters? Does it change with age?

What about Sylvan’s inner goddess: did you find her realistic or silly, a metaphor for living or an excuse for behaviors? The inner goddess is nearly another character—was that distracting or enhancing to Sylvan’s thoughts and actions? Do you have an inner goddess?

On the nude deck. Really? Would you dare to go up on the nude deck or to a nude beach? What prevents you from doing that? Do you believe there are people who feel comfortable doing that? What makes them different from you? What do you imagine they look like? Why are they there?

Both Sylvan and Marv are quite unselfconscious about their nudity. Do you find this realistic? Does this change with age? Should older people be less self-conscious? More? Is there honesty in nudity?

Could Sylvan have been happy on her own for the rest of her life? Did her re-awakening require that she find someone to love? Could she share sex and sensuality with someone without love? Marv seems to be actively searching for someone to love: was he unprepared for a relationship? Did he actually not understand how to love?

What is the contrast between the character’s approaches to love? Are these classic male and female stereotypes? Does the contrast complement or inhibit their growing relationship?

Is the story plausible? Can two persons be drawn to each other as Sylvan and Marv are without getting to know each other first? Can they have a sexual encounter within hours of meeting and yet have more that brings them together than sexual hunger? What kinds of assumptions have to be made in order for this to happen? Does their age or emotional maturity make a difference?

What about Sylvan’s thought that sixteen-year-old girls ought to receive their own sex toy: do you agree with that? How do you think women’s attitudes would change if that became a social custom?

When she was married to Harold, Sylvan believed that the man should be in charge of sex: do you believe this is so? Is that a social custom? Is the sexual dynamic changing? Do you believe it is a biological imperative that males are in charge? Is this about domination and submission? Can a sexual couple be equal in their control of the sexual encounter? How can it be shared equitably?

Do you know anyone like the characters: architects or engineers? Are their psychological states similar to the characters? Is there such a thing as an ‘engineer mind’? Does it make people different? Can women have an ‘engineer mind’?

Have you traveled to the places mentioned by the characters? Do you agree with their perspectives on the beauty or magnificence of these places?

Sylvan reveals her Santa Fe accent: is it realistic? Do you know anyone from Santa Fe with that way of speaking? Why do you think she (or the author) chose her own names for intimate body parts?

Have you seen the green flash at sunset?

Sylvan is clear about what she finds attractive with Marv: his honesty. What does she mean? What does Marv find attractive about Sylvan, besides her physical beauty? Do they clearly express their true feelings of attraction to each other?

Sylvan feels that she is strong and capable. Does she act that way once she meets Marv? Does she act from a position of strength? Do you thing she would give up some of her strength to keep Marv? In what way might that happen? What might she need to do? How close is Sylvan to the female stereotype that you expect for this type of fiction?

Marv seems strong and capable. Is that expressed in his thoughts and actions? In what ways is he more than strong and capable? What other characteristics does he exhibit? Are they realistic? Does a man in real-life need those characteristics? How close is Marv to the male stereotype that you expect for this type of fiction?

Do Marv and Sylvan conform closely to your expectations of romance characters? How do they diverge from your expectations?

Sylvan and Marv both seem fit. Do you think it’s possible to be fit like they are at their age?

Sylvan talks of inner sexy. Does that make sense to you? How does she express it? How would you express it? Is it a characteristic of strength or weakness to have an inner sexy? Does she use it to manipulate Marv?

Are you looking forward to the next book in the series?