As requested, I have collated a few questions received from book clubs. I have also thrown in a few of my own to help kick-start your discussions (trying my hardest to steer clear of my tendancy to put the answer in the question!)
What do you think the central themes of this book are?
Why do you think the author chose to make the main character 108 years old?
Did you enjoy the time-shift aspect of the writing? What do you think the structure brought to your experience of the novel?
Attitudes to child-care have changed dramatically since the beginning of the twentieth century. What advantages/disadvantages did Lottie’s comparative freedom give her over children today?
Kitty raises concerns that Lottie might take after the mother she never knew. How far was this fear borne out? In what ways, if any, does Lottie repeat her mother’s mistakes?
‘A story is almost certainly a lie.’ In what ways does Lottie compensate for her fear of the lies hiding behind words?
Was Kitty wrong to tell Lottie a story about her origins or was she, as Alfie suggested, trying to protect her?
Kingdom justifies lying by saying, ‘People deserve the lies they’re told.’ Do you agree/disagree? Is this a message you should give to a child?
Sir James felt that his loyalty should rest with the father who broke with the conventions of the day to bring him up alone. How sympathetic are you to this viewpoint?
Was being stubborn Kingdom’s only failing as a father?
‘Attitudes were very different.’ What do you think the greatest shift/s in attitude have been over the past 100 years?
How effective do you think the author’s technique of using photography was to reveal the past?
Besides photography, what other things did Mr Parker teach Lottie?
Do you agree that there is a difference between being naked and being nude?
‘The hole someone leaves behind is greater than the space they occupy in life.’ Discuss.
How far do you agree with Lottie’s claim that it is easier to leave than to be left behind? If she could apply this to Alfie and herself, is there in any way in which her decision to leave her husband and son could be justified?
Lottie’s story shifts between Brighton and London. In what ways does her environment affect her?
What do you think Mrs Miller’s motivations were in offering a home to someone she didn’t know?
Sir James draws his own conclusions, but how did you feel about Lottie’s decision to be buried next to Phoebe Hessel?
Please do feel free to post any additional questions.
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