Special Offer for Book Clubs
Want to surprise your friends at your next book club meeting? Be the hostess with the mostess and invite the author into your home for a video chat! For a limited time, Michele will personally appear by telephone or Skype to discuss A STRANGER ON THE BEACH, SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE and/or IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND at your book club or reading group meeting! Contact Michele by clicking here and she’ll be delighted to arrange it with you.
Book Club Discussion Questions (Please note: the questions may contain spoilers!)
A few suggested questions to jump-start your discussion of A STRANGER ON THE BEACH:
- How do you see Caroline’s nervousness about Hannah fitting in to her character? Does it make her more sympathetic? Less?
- When you learned more about Aidan’s backstory partway through the novel, did it change your opinion of him? If so, in what way?
- Early in the novel, Caroline talks about the difference between thoughts and actions. What’s your opinion on this topic? Do you think that bad thoughts inevitably lead to bad actions, or are people entitled to think whatever they want? Explain why you think that way.
- On page 7, Caroline says “The thing about being rich is, there’s always someone richer.” Can you see this statement as a kind of foreshadowing of her actions later? Why do you think that wealth is so important to someone like Caroline?
- How did the dual narrator format affect your reading experience? Do you think it worked well within the novel?
- Halfway through the novel a huge storm hits the coast and damages Caroline’s beach house. How did this contribute to the atmosphere and mood of the second half of the novel? Can you point to specific passages where the writing created this atmosphere?
- Whose perspective did you believe (or believe more) while you were reading? When did your allegiances shift, and why?
- On page 165, Caroline says “The reckoning was coming for all of us. I could feel it.” What kind of reckonings does this book leave us with? Do you think that justice was served by the end of the novel?
- Given the dual narration and unreliable narrator in the novel, who do you think is actually the protagonist – Aidan or Caroline? Can you make an argument for both?
- Did you see the ending coming? If yes, when did you start to figure it out? If no, what did you think was going to happen?
A few suggested questions to jump-start your discussion of SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE:
- Rose and Bel Enright are not only sisters, but twins. How are they alike? How are they different? What baggage do they carry with them from childhood that affects their relationship once they arrive at Odell Academy?
- The two sisters have very different reactions to being sent off to boarding school. How do the pressures of Odell Academy affect each twin, and their relationship? Are they better or worse off for being sent away to boarding school together?
- Sarah and Heath Donovan have been appointed dorm heads of Moreland Hall with the specific mission to crack down on disciplinary violations. What strengths do they bring to this task? What weaknesses? What challenges do they face as they try to carry out their assignment? Do you think their efforts were doomed from the start, or would another couple without their problems have succeeded where they failed?
- What do you make of the relationship between Sarah Donovan and Rose Enright? How do Rose’s feelings towards Sarah influence choices she makes regarding her sister’s relationship with Heath? Does Sarah do everything she could/should do to help Rose?
- The most controversial aspect of this book is the relationship between Heath and Bel. Did you find their relationship believable? What made Bel vulnerable to Heath’s attentions? How did the people around her at Odell contribute to her vulnerabilities? Given how many people suspected something was going on, how was it possible that nobody intervened? As between Heath, Bel and other people in Bel’s life, who bears blame for what happens to her?
- How do you react to the character of Sarah Donovan? Do you find her relatable, naïve, strong, honorable, a good mother? What experiences in her own background and in the history of her relationship with her husband influence the choices she makes as she deals with events in Moreland Hall? How much blame does she deserve for the ultimate outcome?
- Discuss Heath’s strengths and flaws. Why does Sarah love him? Why does Bel? Do you see any redeeming qualities? What in his background can explain his weaknesses. What is it about Heath that ultimately leads to his downfall? Ambition? Lust? Insecurity? How do you think you would have reacted to him if you met him in real life? If you had him as your high school English teacher?
- What role did Darcy Madden and the Moreland girls play in the events that led to the murder? Were they important to the plot, or just an amusing diversion? Do you think Darcy is truly evil, or is she just a teenager who’s into pranks and shenanigans?
- Martha Enright steps up to take in her orphaned granddaughters but then sends them off to boarding school, where one dies. What did you think of her conduct throughout the book? If you were her age, and in her circumstances, do you think you would have done things differently, or not? Does she redeem herself in the end?
- Did you form an opinion early on about which twin dies, and whether the other twin was responsible? Were there other suspects for the murder that you believed might be the actual killer?
- Did you find the ending satisfying? How do you imagine Sarah and Rose will go on with their lives?
A few suggested questions to jump-start your discussion of IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND:
- What is it about the college setting that allows three girls as different as Kate, Jenny and Aubrey to bond? What attracts them to one another? What repels them? If nothing terrible had happened at the end of freshman year, do you think their friendship would have had a future, or would they have gone their separate ways?
- Kate, Jenny and Aubrey come from very different backgrounds. How is each character shaped by her upbringing and family circumstances? Can the characters’ flaws be explained by their difficult childhoods or their complicated relationships with their parents – or is this just an excuse for bad behavior?
- Kate is at the center of two love triangles that shape the book. She gets involved with Lucas despite knowing he was Jenny’s high school boyfriend, and she has an affair with Ethan, who is Aubrey’s husband. What forces compel Kate to behave so badly? Is she simply pursuing these men in order to take them away from her best friends, or do you believe her feelings for them? How does the sense of betrayal Jenny and Aubrey feel when Kate steals their men influence their actions toward her?
- The story cuts back and forth in time between freshman year at Carlisle and the roommates’ reunion twenty years later. Over those two decades, how do the three main characters change? Do they grow up at all? Does marriage, motherhood or career make them wiser, or kinder? At the end of the book, which of the three do you believe is the happiest, or best adjusted?
- When Kate meets Owen Rizzo in the bar during the thunderstorm, she tells him her name is Maggie Price. Why? What role does Maggie Price’s suicide play in Kate’s inner life over the years? Do you believe she feels guilt for it? Does she feel genuine guilt for what happened to Lucas at the bridge? Is Kate capable of true remorse?
- Why does Griff love Kate so much? What did you think of his actions toward her throughout the course of their marriage, and at the very end? Throughout the second half of the book, did you believe he killed her? Does he seem remorseful, or not? What do you think his future holds?
- The three roommates wind up in three very different marriages to three very different men. Were the problems in these marriages a reflection of the women’s innate character flaws? Were they inevitable? If you had to pick one of the three men to be married to – Griff, Ethan or Tim – which would you pick?
- Which of the three roommates did you like best? Which would you most like to have as a friend? Which is most like you — are you a Kate, an Aubrey or a Jenny, or some combination of the three?
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