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 didn’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 heir 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?