A Cajun Journey

Turner masterfully weaves a tale of love, life and heartbreak in the depths of Cajun country. Josephine Chauvin is a mother who must make the decision no mother should ever be faced with---which children to save and which to leave behind. She and her daughter, Evangeline, take the two youngest children and escape into the swamps of south Louisiana. The mysterious James enters their lives to lend them a helping hand. He becomes a stable influence for this small family as they provide him with the purpose he had been seeking all his life. Infusing side stories as varied as life in the foothills of North Carolina, the Korean War, and the Catholic Church, Turner has produced a story rich in dialogue and provocative descriptions known for its joie de vivre.

A Cajun Journey


    A Cajun Life Book Club Questions

    1. The title, A Cajun Life, can inspire curiosity for some readers because Cajun history and culture is not well known by most readers. What questions come to mind for you when you hear the word “Cajun”? 2. Tallulah was Clovis’s nanny and surrogate mother since the death of his mother when he was six years old. Did the depth of their relationship surprise you? If yes, why? 3. Celeste’s father initially opposes her acceptance of Clovis’s marriage proposal because he wants her to go to college. What are your thoughts about parental pressure regarding their children’s life decisions? 4. What did you think about Celeste’s dying wish to have Tallulah and Marion take care of her son until Clovis gets home rather than her aunt and uncle? 5. Federal government officials imposed their will on the people of Berwick and ultimately suppressed Cajun culture by not allowing the students to speak French on school grounds. Were the reasons for this rule logical? Do you think this was appropriate? How could government and school officials have handled this differently? 6. How are the Cajuns’ claims to be allowed to preserve their culture different than those of immigrants today? 7. What is the novel’s message regarding relationships across races? What references support this?

    8. Like veterans of all wars, World War II veterans continued to fight battles in their nightmares after they returned home. How does Clovis’s PTSD affect his personal relationships? Consider relationships other than the relationship he has with Jacques. 9. Did it surprise you to learn that Blacks in the ante-bellum period also owned slaves? Why? 10. Marion helps Jacques assuage his fear of the mask. What deeper issues did she address when she and Jacques discussed the mask? 11. Jacques and Marcel are best friends and cousins. Which of the boys emerges as the leader and which the follower? 12. Dubuclet is known as “the sage on the bayou”? Why do you think this is? What references support your assertions? 13. Clovis, Louis, and Dubuclet opened a racially integrated school about ten years before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. Was this wise on their part? Were their reasons for opening the school sound? What evidence supports your position? 14. Sheriff Jude Bertrand attends Tallulah’s funeral and doesn’t arrest or fine Clovis for violating Jim Crow laws. What reason did he give for not upholding the law? Is there any morality in his decision to ignore the law? If yes, what? 15. What assumptions might one conclude from the ending of A Cajun Life? What beliefs or values appear to be supported?

    A Cajun Journey Book Club Questions

    1. Who’s your favorite character in A Cajun Journey? Why?
    2. What are your views on Josephine’s decision to leave Etienne the way she did?
    3. Would you have handled Seamus O’Malley’s funeral differently than James? If yes, how? If no, why not?
    4. Was James hasty in the decision he made when he left the board of inquiry with the archbishop? Why or why not?
    5. Josephine held firm views on how women are treated compared to men by society. What would you have done differently under the same conditions and in the same era regarding her treatment of her daughters compared to her treatment of Pierre?
    6. Should Josephine have allowed Pierre to pursue his passion for horses? Why or why not?
    7. Was there another way Josephine could have gotten closer to Pierre without allowing him to indulge in his passion for horses?
    8. What emotions do you think Etienne Junior experienced when he first saw his mother again?
    9. What is your view on beauty pageants? Has the book influenced your view in anyway? If yes, how?
    10. What other books did A Cajun Journey remind you of?
    11. What characters did you like best? Why?
    12. What feelings did this book evoke for you?
    13. What songs does this book make you think of? Create a book group playlist together!
    14. If you got the chance to ask the author of this book one question, what would it be?
    15. Which character in the book would you most like to meet?