Discussion Guide: Desiderata by Judy Ferro , Galena Summit Press, 2011
Why doesn’t Desiderata want to attend classes? How does she feel later?
Why does Desiderata dislike the older Pepin at first? What do reactions to his physical appearance reveal about medieval European society? Would we react differently today?
Why was war such a central part of Frankland? Which men took part? How were women affected? Who benefited or suffered?
What obligations does Desiderata have as a member of the nobility? What are women’s roles? And men’s? If you were to live during this period, what role would you prefer?
What is the role of religion in Charlemagne’s court? How does it differ from the relationship between our government and religion today? Do some countries have church-state relationships similar to Charlemagne’s court?
What did you think about Desiderata at first? What were her strengths and weaknesses? How does she change?
Did this book change your understanding of Charlemagne? Did anything (dwellings, clothing, movement, chores) at court surprise you?
Did the nature of family life during this time surprise you? How would you feel living closely with a servant or being separated from your parents for political reasons? How was childbirth depicted?
During this period women and servants usually weren’t schooled. Why was Charlemagne’s court different? Why did students then always read and write in Latin rather than their own languages? How would such a custom change our lives today?
What is Charlemagne’s relationship with his eldest son? Why does he change Pepin’s name and insist he become a monk? If you were the older Pepin, would you have acted differently in the end?
If you were in Desiderata’s place, how would you react to a secret plot against the king? Did her role surprise you?
For 800 years monarchs tried without success to unite Europe as Charlemagne did. What were the problems? How had Charlemagne managed to extend his power over great distances when travel was on foot or horseback?
What would people from Desiderata’s community think of modern public libraries and bookstores where anyone can buy books?
Do any of the story’s characters remind you of people you know? Do any resemble leaders, governments, or royal families of the 21st century?
(Adapted from an earlier list developed by Three Muses Press of Oregon.)