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One Was a Soldier

A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery

One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming
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Discussion Questions

1. Sarah Dowling reassures her participants that their attendance in her group will not go on their

official records. Discuss ways in which ambivalent or negative attitudes toward mental health

struggles affected each person's healing process. Does this reflect your experience of these

attitudes and issues in your own community?

2. Claire's independence and helping attitude both help and get in the way of her personal and

professional lives. What were some situations when her own blind spots got in the way of her

investigation or own best interests? What were some ways in which these traits helped others or


3. Claire is a woman in two traditionally male-dominated fields. Is this ever an advantage in her


4. The therapy sessions, where the narrator is Sarah Dowling, gives a chance for the reader to see

the characters from a bystander's perspective. How did these sessions serve as a "reality check"

for the reader, compared to seeing the action through the eyes of characters who were not very


5. Church members often expect their leaders to live a transparent, moral life of example for others.

And yet, the incidence of depression and addiction in the field can run very high. What factors

might drive these two, parallel realities?

6. As the title implies, this book deals with those who have served in the military returning to their

civilian lives: What is your experience of returning military? How do you feel the book addresses

the topic?

7. The book opens with a new character, Sarah Dowling, getting ready to start a veteran's group.

What do you think of her role? Of the group?

8. Who is your favorite character in the book? Why? If your favorite is either Clare or Russ, who else

would you pick?

9. This books focus is more about the personal lives of its characters and less centered in "church".

How do you feel about this?

10. What do you think of the ending? What do you think will be the reaction of Russ, the

congregation, and the rest of Miller's Kill?

11. Is Will's reaction to his injuries typical? Why or why not?

12. Do you feel that Dr. Stillman was right to continue practicing medicine? Would his condition be

obvious to others?

13. Is Clare's use of drugs and alcohol logical? Would a woman of faith need these crutches?

St. Martin's Press; April 2011
336 pages; ISBN 9781429920247
Download in secure EPUB
Title: One Was a Soldier
Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
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