Refuge Book Club: Tokyo Ueno Station by Yū Miri June 15

48 hours til spoilers.



Did anybody read it? :slight_smile:

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I’m ready to go on the discussion, who is our resident zoom/conference expert, @RobertHunter ? Or are we just going to pose questions and exchange theories?

Damnit. I totally missed this thread a few weeks ago or I would have been all over it.

I finished up this morning. I’m good with any approach. Not sure if there’s like a good study guide or questions for discussion out there or if we should just go free flowing. I’m sure lots of us have some thoughts on this one.

This is the nightmare that I (still) have.

I don’t finish an assignment that I start at the very last minute (last night) and there’s a surprise quiz that’s 15% of the grade.

Can I get a 1 day extension?

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I would agree, but this is not my show, whatever you and Randy think will be best to facilitate discussion.

(Without giving anything away) I will say that I found it amazing how many different contradictions can be rolled into a single piece of literature, which don’t feel forced but are obviously meant to clearly juxtapose the reflection of the experience/perception as you read.

I’m really intrigued if my take is going to really different from your guys’ takes…

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@Zocco is far more the zoom expert than I

I just know the memes

I haven’t been asked to host Zooms lately, so maybe not.

I certainly would provide any assistance if asked

I found several discussion questions at I’ll put them here as a starting point that people can respond to and share. Don’t feel the need to respond to all of them if you don’t wish to, but please number them so we can all be on the same page. And if you have other questions for people, include them with your responses.

  1. What do you think of John Dowell? Dowell is famous (or infamous) as one of literature’s most unreliable narrators. In what way can he be considered “unreliable”?

  2. Why does Dowell consider the Ashburnhams good people? What is his standard of goodness based on?

  3. Dowell says that the couples’ friendship is like “an extraordinarily safe castle.” What does he mean? He also compares the friendship to a minuet…but then changes his mind about the minuet. What are the two meanings the minuet comes to have for Dowell?

  4. What is the symbolic significance of Edward’s and Florence’s “heart” problems?

  5. Compare John Dowell and Edward Ashburnham as characters. How are they different? At the end, Dowell says that he and Edward were just alike. What does he mean? Is Dowell correct—are they alike?

  6. Talk about Florence. Why did she marry Dowell—a husband with whom, over the course of 13 years, she was never intimate? What does she want of Dowell?

  7. What do you think of Leonora? Is she excessively controlling…or controlling with good reason? Why does she condone her husband’s affair with Maisie Maiden?

  8. What makes Leonora believe that Florence and Edward will eventually become intimate? What is Dowell’s response to her prophecy?

  9. Has Edward ever loved Leonora? Despite his many affairs, Leonora hopes that he will come to love only her. But what happens to her feelings for Edward when she realizes he is intimate with Florence?

  10. What is the significance of the couples’ trip to the home of Martin Luther’s Protest?

  11. Dowell uses the term “normal” to describe people. What does he mean when he uses the term “normal” or “perfectly normal” for Leonora and Rodney Bayham?

  12. Edward is the “good soldier” of the title. Is Edward good, despite his incessant affairs…or is the title ironic? Do you sympathize with Edward at all?

  13. Why does Leonora reveal the intimate details of her marital woes to Nancy? What affect does it have on Nancy? What are Nancy’s feelings for Edward?

  14. How and/or why do both Leonora and Nancy psychologically torture Edward?

  15. Talk about Nancy’s fate, why Dowell stays to care for her…and what the significance is of the word “shuttlecock.”

  16. More generally… Do you like any of these people? Is this simply a sensational story of sex and betrayal, or something more? Are you satisfied with the way the novel ends?

I’m going to work on these this evening. I just finished the book last night so having a little bit of time to reflect will be beneficial I think…

I’m really keen to hear people’s opinions on question 16 above!

All of those English Lit classes have prepared me for this moment!

I was just deep in the realms of the litlovers discussion guide questions after wrapping the read up this morning.

They are some solid ones with plenty to chew on. Curious to hear some thoughts but need to organize my own a bit more first.

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Hey all, I just discovered this thread one minute ago.

Don’t think I will be able to acquire the book and finish it by tomorrow.

But I hope you will have some more book club offerings in the future.


If people are interested, Jstor is offering free access to articles during COVID, so plenty of opportunity to check out academic consideration of the novel!


Love the idea! For those of us who got a late start on the thread/book, is there a book that’s next on the list?

I finished the book a couple weeks ago. Really interested in other people’s thoughts.

In the question list above, one of the questions asserted that Ashburton (Edward) is The good soldier. One of my thoughts as I was reading was that the title did not refer uniquely to Edward, but could also refer to Dowell and to Leonora.



@Randy / @Sarah

Do we just want to roll down the list and pose each question singularly to let everyone have input a question at a time? Or do you think some other format would be best? I think the former may lead to some overlap, but would allow, hopefully, for a lot of people to chime in.