A Different Type of Soul

Discussion Questions


1. The structure of A Different Type of Soul is additive, whereby characters are introduced singly or in small groups until as the story unfolds, a convergence occurs. How does this additive structure impact the reader’s experience of the story as a whole?

2. “Meeting points” play an important role in this story where different worlds collide, i.e. the Wheatlands where engineers from around the world are assembled; the park where “everybody meets everyone,” Trafalgar Square where Annette and Heinrich meet again; the doughnut trolley in the software engineers’ lab, etc. Which of these meeting points do you believe are the most significant?

3. One of the important conflicts of the novel concerns the forces of old vs. new. This conflict is expressed in Heinrich’s desire to go to America and leave behind his past, in Annette’s desire to connect with her past, in Eva’s determination to hold on to her past, in Erin’s new tug-of-war between old father and new father, etc. Which force do you believe prevails?

4. A running theme through the novel is innocence. All of the characters in some way live in a bubble of innocence. To what extent do you agree? Are the characters trying to maintain their innocence? Do you believe that by the end of the novel, everyone’s innocence has been preserved?

5. This is historical fiction which takes place in a time when middle American society had different rules than today. How do you think the important decisions that the characters made would have differed today? (ie Annette’s decision to marry Rob, Heinrich waiting for Annette, Eva claiming Heinrich as her own, Rob acting stoically toward seeing his wife kissing her former lover, etc)

6. This novel highlights the emergence of the internationalization of technology. To what extent did this contribute to the intense atmosphere of competition and excellence? Is this still the case in today’s tech environment? In what ways is the tech environment today the same or different from those nascent days?

7. What role does Tabitha play in the novel?

8. Do you believer that Dieter makes critical decisions in this story? Is he an important character?

9. What did the rainstorm represent in the novel?

10. On pages 247-248 Annette and Heinrich discuss Heinrich’s needs. What do you believe he needs? Do you agree with Annette that he needs a mission over freedom? What do you believe Annette needs?

11. Is Eva an innocent or is she malignant?

12. Did you feel that Annette should have gone with Heinrich or stayed with Rob?


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