READING GROUP COMPANION

 

 

THE DESERTER'S DAUGHTER

 

1. In what ways are Carrie and Evadne’s personalities and lives shaped by their respective fathers’ social backgrounds?

2. Does Ralph truly love Carrie?

3. What is it like to to live in a close-knit community like Wilton Lane? By what standards do its inhabitants judge one another?

4. Is Evadne wrong to want to return to the upper middle class life of her childhood? What longings is she trying to fulfil?

5. Why did Letty start a relationship with Billy? Should Carrie have told her the truth about Billy?

6. Compare Carrie and Evadne as daughters.

7. Who comes between Carrie and Letty more – Ralph or Billy? Or Carrie’s conscience?

8. Joseph’s death was accidental, so Ralph isn’t legally or literally a murderer; but is he morally a murderer?

9. Adam tells Carrie that “mind-horror” (shell-shock) will not be understood in their lifetimes. Is battle fatigue/PTSD understood today?

10. What is your answer to Ralph’s question: when does infidelity start? When you are attracted to another person or when you act upon those feelings?

 

 

A RESPECTABLE WOMAN

 

1. To what extent is this a story of keeping up appearances?

2. What was Nell looking for when she married Stan?

3. After she visited Vicarage Lane, should Nell have given Stan a second chance? Why doesn’t she?

4. How does Edmund control Hilda and Leonie? Why do they let him?

5. Who was the injured party: Jim or Roberta?

6. Was Nell right to tell the children their father was dead?

7. Compare the two older women in the book: Olive and Leonie. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What kind of mothers/mothers-in-law are they?

8. This is the first time Susanna Bavin has made a child a viewpoint character. Has she done it successfully? What does Posy’s viewpoint add to the story?

9. In the world of Finney Lane and Wilton Lane, in what ways do the women support one another?

10. An American reviewer called A Respectable Woman “a grippingly creepy thriller.” What do you make of this assessment?

 

 

THE SEWING ROOM GIRL

 

1. Rosie, Adeline and Mr Nugent: who has the deepest effect on Juliet’s life?

2. What is it like for Juliet watching Archie grow up?

3. Is Verity Forbes a woman ahead of her time?

4. Would Agnes have had a better life if she had stayed in Manchester and worked towards being the mademoiselle of her own salon? Does she have the temperament to achieve such success?

5. Compare Adeline, Agnes and Juliet as mothers.

6. To what extent, if any, can Adeline be held responsible for Clara’s lies about being Mademoiselle Antoinette?

7. One reviewer said, “I think plucky, courageous Juliet might just be my favourite of Susanna’s leading ladies (and I don’t say that lightly).” Do you find Juliet an appealing character? Why?

8. William (the real one) and Hal: which do you prefer? Why?

9. Would Juliet have been as successful at setting up her business without Cecily by her side?

10. To what extent is Rosie driven by family feeling?