Book Discussions


Book discussions are offered for the One Book One County Montcalm selection, “The Marsh King’s Daughter,” by Karen Dionne. Karen Dionne is the co-founder of the online writers community Backspace, the organizer of the Salt Cay Writers Retreat, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she  served on the board of directors. She has been honored by the Michigan Humanities Council as a Humanities Scholar, and lives with her husband in Detroit’s north suburbs.

Discussion dates and locations
  • Monday, June 17 at 6:30 p.m.
    Crystal Community Library in Crystal
  • Thursday, June 27 at 5 p.m.
    Tamarack District Library in Lakeview
  • Monday, July 1 at 7 p.m.
    Tamarack District Library in Lakeview


  • Tuesday, July 2 at 10 a.m.
    Home Township Library in Edmore
  • Wednesday, July 17 at 6:45 p.m.
    White Pine District Library in Stanton
  • Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 6 p.m.
    Carson City Public Library in Carson City


  • Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 6 p.m.
    Flat River Community Library in Greenville
  • Friday, Aug. 23 at 11 a.m.
    Richland Township Library in Vestaburg
  • Monday, Sept. 9 at 10 a.m.
    Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library in Howard City

Discussion questions  


Spoiler Alter! These questions will give away portions of the storyline.

  1. Why hasn’t Helena told Stephen about her past? Is she wrong to have kept it from him? Has she endangered her family by keeping it a secret?
  2. Is Helena a good wife?
  3. Why do you think the author sets Helena’s story alongside the fable of The Marsh King’s Daughter? In what ways are these two stories similar? How does the fable shape your understanding of Helena’s character?
  4. Does Jacob love Helena? Does he deserve her love? If The Hunter’s appearance hadn’t revealed Jacob’s dark side, would Helena ever have broken with her father?
  5. Was Helena’s mother wrong for not saving her? Does Helena do enough to help her mother? How does Helena’s relationship with her mother change over time? Is Helena a good daughter?
  6. While it’s clear Helena loves her two daughters, is she a good mother? In what ways does her own upbringing affect the way she raises Mari and Iris?
  7. Is Helena better for being part of society? Is she truly healthier at the story’s end? Will she ever be okay?
  8. Does Helena see her responsibilities within her own family differently at the end of the novel?
  9. What does Helena mean at the end when she says “our story” (p. 291)? How has her life changed during the course of the novel?
  10. In the end, Helena thinks, “I am no longer my father’s shadow” (p. 302). What does she mean by this? How has her idea of her father changed?
  11. How does Helena’s relationship with nature shape her view of the world, and does this relationship change once she leaves the cabin? How do the beliefs of the Ojibwa people shape her values? In what ways do these values suit her in the world she discovers outside the marsh, and in what ways do they hinder her?
  12. How does place inform this story? What would the story lose if the setting were changed? Might another setting suit the book, even if it were to change it?
  13. Why are we fascinated by stories about survivors of abduction like Helena, whether in fiction or nonfiction?


One Book Sponsors


One Book One County Montcalm is sponsored by The Daily News, Montcalm Community College, the MCC Foundation and the public libraries of Montcalm County.

MCC Library
989-328-2111, Ext. 261 or 291