I. Expand your vocabulary.

Exercise 1. The following words and word combinations can be used to describe a dissolving relationship. Look up their definitions and examples of usage in a dictionary.

brutal and degrading marriage
dementedly possessive behavior
domestic meltdown
domestic violence
guilty party
imminent destruction
inherent unhappiness
jealous rages
lovelorn mysery
marital difficulties
mitigating circumstances
smouldering hate
the grass is greener syndrome
the opportunity to snipe
to agitate
to be worth wrecking one’s family
to break smb’s spirit
to feel bereft
to gabble about smth
to grind smb down
to grind to a halt
to have a flat battery
to lapse into smth
to rant and rave
to reach the end of one’s tether
to repel
to snipe at smb
wearying predictability

Exercise 2. Recall and describe a dissolving relationship from a book/movie of your choice. Explain how/why the couple managed/did not manage to cope with the situation.
Exercise 3. The following words and word combinations can be used to describe one’s poor parenting skills. Look up their definitions and examples of usage in a dictionary.

to alienate brother from sister
to be told off
to deny one’s kids everything
to drive smb mad
to give smb the creeps
to let smth drop
to provide mitigation for smth
to tell fibs
window of conversational opportunity

Exercise 4. Dwell on the influence of the atmosphere in a family on children’s behavior. Make use of the phrases from Exercise 3 and the ones listed below.

a basic maternal right
a disconcerting child
eyes glistening with tears
mature and fatherly thing to do
naked aggression
silent indifference
to convey warmth and concern
to have a glimpse into one’s soul
to provide proper maternal care

Exercise 5. Look up the meaning and examples of usage of the following idioms. Think of your own examples of using them.

to be in for the long haul
to breed doubt
to catch smb out
to come unbidden to one’s mind
to have the bit between one’s teeth
to leave smb in the lurch
to put one's finger on
to rebuild smth from scratch
to spin smb’s version
to trail off

Exercise 6. Fill in the gaps with the words from the box. If necessary change their form.
preposterous stride havoc magnanimous ominous imminent one-off headway malevolent surmise extoll
  1. For all the concern expressed about the demise of the college library, librarians are needed more than ever.
  2. He kept remembering Cynthia’s earlier revelation that, in certain circumstances, killing someone wasn’t a totally idea.
  3. For our democratically elected representatives to give former colonies of Empire their independence was noble and .
  4. In the past, a scientist began with a or hunch and began gathering data to prove or disprove it.
  5. During an election year we should all the virtue of honesty.
  6. Alex attacked his food as if it were to blame for the he had created at the table.
  7. It didn’t make much , but opened the door to new ideas about how space and time might emerge from deeper physics.
  8. The official tone of foreboding had been established.
  9. This is a model, a concept car made by our team.
  10. She confidently into the room.
  11. His failures made him toward those who were successful.

II. Recall the novel and complete the tasks below.

Exercise 1. Agree or disagree: “Getting married and having a family is like emigrating.”
Exercise 2. Agree or disagree: “The plain state of being human is dramatic enough for anyone; you don't need to be a heroin addict or a performance poet to experience extremity. You just have to love someone.”
Exercise 3. Agree or disagree: “It’s love this and love that but of course it’s so easy to love someone you don’t know, whether it’s George Clooney or Monkey. Staying civil to someone with whom you’ve ever shared Christmas turkey – now there’s a miracle.”
Exercise 4. “It is the act of reading itself I miss, the opportunity to retreat further and further from the world until I have found some space, some air that isn’t stale, that hasn't been breathed by my family a thousand times already.” Who said it and on what occasion? Have you ever used reading as a way to escape reality?
Exercise 5. Dwell on the following: “If we don’t live rich, beautiful lives, does it mean we’ve screwed up? Is it our fault?”
Exercise 6. Katie says that “a sense of humour is like hair – something a lot of men lose as they get older”. Do you agree with her?
Exercise 7. In what ways are the notions of what it means to be “good” explored in this novel? How do Katie and David each represent – or defy – these notions? Discuss the role of “goodness” in the couple’s relationship to each other, their children and their community.
Exercise 8. Comment on Katie’s words: “I am not a bad person. I am a doctor.” What does “being a doctor” mean to her/other people?
Exercise 9. How do Katie’s decisions – as a wife, mother, and woman – reflect her struggle to maintain her identity as her marriage begins to unravel? Identify the factors that lead to her infidelity. Is it entirely her fault?
Exercise 10.“Angriest Man in Holloway.” Dwell on “the old David” as a bitter old man before his time.
Exercise 11. “Be careful what you wish for.” For years David has been selfish, sarcastic, and underemployed, but now he has changed. Katie isn’t sure if this is a deeply-felt conversion, a brain tumor or David’s most brilliant vicious manipulation. In pairs discuss the consequences of this transition.
Exercise 12. The transformation of David is deeply upsetting to Katie. She is finding it more and more difficult to live with David – and with herself. Does the novel suggest that “good” behavior because of guilt is something less than true goodness? Give your reasons.
Exercise 13. Is spiritual healing possible? Would you personally turn to somebody named D.J. GoodNews for help? Why? Is he an example of “goodness”?
Exercise 14. GoodNews describes the “possessions game” as something that makes people “lazy and spoiled and uncaring”. Comment on this opinion.
Exercise 15. Comment on the following: “It takes a child to say the unsayable.” Recall the episodes when the children said what the adults couldn’t.
Exercise 16. In pairs hold a discussion on the following issue: “What makes a good person?” Make a list of qualities and actions that qualify a person as a “good” one.
Exercise 17. In groups of 4–5 conduct a discussion on the topic: “What is more important – being a good person or being a good parent?” Prove your point of view using quotations from the book.

III. Follow up activities.

Exercise 1. You represent Social Services. Make a list of tips for people who, like Katie and David’s neighbours, decide to invite a homeless kid into their house.
Exercise 2. You are a psychologist who has recently been asked to write an article on the following topic: “Can Goodness Mend a Broken Family?” You may consider the following questions while writing the article: Can we redeem ourselves by helping others when our own personal relationships are wrecking? Can a couple recover from such dysfunction and pain?
Exercise 3. Role play. Imagine that David and GoodNews finished their book (How to Be Good) and decided to present it to the public. In groups of 6–7 act out the presentation of this book.
Exercise 4. Nick Hornby is one of Britain’s most popular contemporary writers. Write a review of How to be Good for an English magazine.