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Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. John was born and grew up in a small village in Ireland during the early 1800’s. How does John’s identity evolve throughout his early years? What character traits does John retain? Which characters have the greatest impact on John’s growth and development?

2. Samuel and Charlotte Castleford are British landlords over the property Thomas Doyle rents. Historically, the landlords did not interact socially with their tenants. Compare the way that Samuel and Charlotte interact with their tenants and the way that the previous landlord, Henri Dowling, treated them. Why do you think there was such a difference?

3. Discuss the theme of loyalty and strength in the novel. What drives the different characters’ devotion? Who has the strongest character? Who the weakest and why?

4. Do you think that if John’s father had not been dying and asked him to save the family that John would have ever considered traveling to America on his own?

5. John’s life may have been easier had he supported the British rule. Why do you think so many preferred death to submission?

6. Winfred and her children are committed to the workhouse. What do you think gave them the strength to wait for John to send for them? Illness not being a factor, why did the family thrive when so many others perished?

7. Had you been Samuel and Charlotte, would you have let John ride in steerage while you enjoyed first class service? Was there something more they should have done for him? Do you think John harbored feelings of contempt at the difference in their lives?

8. Ann Elizabeth Latimer falls for John the first time she meets him. Share whether you were surprised that John was able to so easily convince her to marry him.

9. William never got over his mother’s death. Examine his character and his desire for freedom. Was this strength or a weakness?

10. Joseph refused to marry Mary Francis when she told him that she was pregnant. Should she have insisted and possibly gone to John for support?

11. In what ways did A Journey in Time give you new insights into The Great Potato Famine and the additional challenges of that era? Was life easier for those in the early 1900’s? How is it easier now?

12. Annie claims she never met a man that could match up to her father and that is why she never married. Do you believe that to be the real reason? If not, why not?

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