The Disagreement

A Novel

The Disagreement

It is April 17, 1861 -- the day that Virginia secedes from the Union and the sixteenth birthday of John Alan Muro. As the Commonwealth erupts in celebration, young Muro sees his dream of attending medical school in Philadelphia shattered by the sudden reality of war.

Muro's father, believing that the Disagreement will pass, sends his son instead to Charlottesville. Jefferson's forty-year-old University of Virginia has become a haven of rogues and dilettantes, among them Muro's roommate, Braxton Baucom III, a planter's son who attempts to strike a resemblance to General "Stonewall" Jackson. Though the pair toasts lightheartedly "To our studies!" with a local corn whiskey known as "The Bumbler," the war effort soon exerts a sobering influence. Medical students like Muro are pressed into service at the Charlottesville General Hospital, where the inexperienced Dr. Muro saves the life of a Northern lieutenant, earning the scorn of his peers.

As the war progresses, Muro takes up yet another cause -- winning the affections of the beguiling Miss Lorrie Wigfall. Here, too, Muro faces a cunning adversary. Just as the fighting is closing in, Muro is forced to make a choice that will shape the rest of his life. In this story of love, loyalty, and unimaginable sacrifice, a doctor struggles to balance the passions of youth with the weight of responsibility.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416550662 | 
  • March 2009

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Reading Group Guide

The Disagreement begins on April 17, 1861, the day that Virginia secedes from the Union and the day that marks the sixteenth birthday of John Alan Muro. As the Commonwealth erupts in celebration, young Muro sees his dream of attending medical school in Philadelphia shattered by the sudden reality of war.
Muro's father sends him to Charlottesville instead of Philadelphia, where Jefferson's forty-year-old University of Virginia has become a haven of rogues and dilettantes. Soon, the war effort requires that medical students like Muro be pressed into service at the Charlottesville General Hospital, where the inexperienced Dr. Muro controversially saves the life of a Northern lieutenant.
Late in the war, now nineteen and married to his first love, Muro is forced to make a choice that will shape the rest of his life. In this story of unimaginable sacrifice, a doctor struggles to balance the passions of youth with the weight of responsibility.
GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Taylor uses the experiences of a country doctor to depict the Southern experience of the Civil War. What unique information about the war was revealed as a result of this choice of narrator? What information about the war was excluded?
2. Discuss Lorrie. What information does the author include throughout the novel to characterize Lorrie? Begin with her first appearance on page 65. Do you sympathize with her situation toward the book's end?
3. Discuss Lorrie's treatment of Lt. see more

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About the Author

Nick Taylor
Photo by Barbara Nevins Taylor

Nick Taylor

NICK TAYLOR is a journalist and the critically acclaimed author of nine books. He lives in New York City.

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