Questions for book groups

The Partridge and the Pelican was chosen for publication by book groups around the country, which should mean it's a good choice for other book groups to read and discuss.  Here are some questions to help get discussion going.  I'd love to add more questions - let me know if you come up with any that you enjoyed debating (or would like to debate!).

  • Which of the characters did you feel most drawn to, or most sympathetic towards?  Were there any you didn't like?  Why?
  • How are the lives of the women in the novel  shaped or constrained by men - by their early lives - by their own choices - by chance?   How much say do we have in shaping our own lives?  How often do our actions or choices have unexpected repercussions?
  • Do you think the characters in the book are unusual in being so much affected by the past?
  • Do you think Olivia finds redemption by the end of the book?  What about Eve?
  • What do you think Olivia gains from her friendship with Sarah?  Why do you think she is so strongly drawn to Eve?  How much of that is down to the events of 1983?
  • Does the book offer a range of alternative lives for its female characters (minor and major)?  To what extent is it right about the trade-offs and pitfalls of different paths?  Or about motherhood as a central issue for women?
  • What parallels and patterns did you find interesting in the book? (eg mothers and daughters, early deaths, family trauma, the way things are passed down through generations...)
  • What did you think about Lucy? 
  • Could things have gone differently for Olivia and Eve?
  • What do you think happens after the book finishes?