Discussion Questions for Book Clubs


Reading one of my books for your book club? Here are some discussion questions to get you started. I'll load questions for The Secret Pianist closer to its US paperback publication date in October.

A Child for the Reich

  1. Firstly, were you surprised to learn about the Reich’s kidnapping campaign?
  2. Anna has conflicting feelings about her husband leaving for the resistance. Why do you think that is? Do you blame her?
  3. What is Matka’s motivation for getting out of bed? Do you blame her for not trusting her German friends, especially the Ott’s?
  4. Anna is constantly tested with who to trust. In the beginning of the novel when Matka reads to the children, she says, “The Czech maiden searched the villages for a way to trick the devil, but she only had to listen to the whispers of her heart and trust herself. She had the answers all along…” In what ways does this passage foreshadow Anna’s journey?
  5. Ema asks Anna to tell her the story about the woman from Prague while in the garden, but Anna holds back, and when pressed later, only gives her bits and pieces. Why do you think this is? And why do you think Anna ended up telling her the rest of the story—the whole story—at the end of the book once safe at Greta’s?
  6. Who is your favorite character and why?

The Girls from the Beach  

  1. When Kit and Red land on the beaches, Red saves Kit from drowning. How does this one event shape their friendship? What are some of the other ways Red saves Kit? 
  2. Nurses joined the Nurse Corps because they wanted to serve their country and save soldier’s lives.  What do you think of Kit’s decision to keep her dual language skills a secret from the Army? Kit acknowledges that if Red had known how to speak German, she would have been all right with nursing Germans, because a patient is a patient. If you were a nurse during the war in France, would you have been okay with fixing up Germans in a POW camp? 
  3. When Kit, Red and Roxy are drinking wine at their sandbag canteen, Red mentions that they’ll meet up someday after the war, and not in a tent. Given the ending, how ironic is this statement? 
  4. Roxy doesn’t like it when Kit and Red keep things from her. Do you blame Kit and Red for keeping the German a secret from Roxy? 
  5. Roxy wants to go on the secret mission because it sounds exciting and heroic. She also has something to prove to her brothers back home even though she knows they won’t believe her. She’s tough, and she has something to prove, but she’s also scared and vulnerable. How do we see Roxy change during those 5 days in September behind enemy lines? Specifically, what is the significance of her going on the mission to retrieve the soldier’s tags in Germany? We know she has a soft spot for the married soldiers, but is there more to her decision making? 
  6. Gail also feels she has something to prove. She’s beautiful, smart and can sing like a bird. What do you think of Gail’s decision to switch orders with the other Gail Barry? She’s presented as a bit of fish out of water in the beginning, but how does Gail grow during those 5 days behind enemy lines? 
  7. The women face unimaginable horrors both in clearing, and during those 5 days in September. Throughout the story they remind each other that they “don’t have to talk about it.” How significant is this statement, knowing how Evelyn’s story plays out? 

The Girl from Vichy 

  1. When Mama hears of Adèle’s plan to run, she immediately gives Adèle her secret stash of francs and reminds her that her life is her own, not someone else’s to control. What does Mama’s reaction tell us about her character considering the time period? 
  2. Adèle thinks Marguerite is mad at her for taking her seat on the train, but this is not the case. In what ways can we infer that something else is going on with Marguerite? And then later at the convent, what does Adèle do that inadvertently makes her look suspicious? 
  3. First impressions can be deceiving. Adèle and Marguerite are two completely different people at the beginning of the book; they look different, both are at the convent for different reasons, but by the end of the book we can see that they are quite similar, are they not? In what ways are they similar? 
  4. Let’s talk about Papa and Mama’s relationship. In what ways can you tell that their separation is killing both of them? What is keeping them from reconciling throughout the book? 
  5. Many families are politically divided. Today, I think we are pretty outspoken with what we believe, which makes for some interesting dinnertime conversations. However, this wasn’t always acceptable. Why do you think Adèle didn’t tell Papa herself she was a Gaullist? 
  6. When we finally meet Gérard, we find out he is both physically and mentally overpowering. He is a boastful schemer. Adèle is the exact opposite; essentially a farm girl who leads a simple life. Why do you think he wants to marry Adèle? What makes her so attractive to him? 
  7. In many ways Gérard represents the Vichy regime. What can we infer about the desires and actions of the collaborationist regime through Gérard’s character? 
  8. Luc and Adèle’s relationship takes a turn when he finds out she’s the Catchfly. Why do you think this is? What do they find attractive about each other? 
  9. How does Marguerite act more like a sister to Adèle than Charlotte throughout much of the book? What is Marguerite giving Adèle that her sister isn’t? 
  10. When Adèle finds Charlotte’s crate of paints tucked in the far corner of the cellar they are covered in dust. Mama encourages Adèle to use the paints, but Adèle knows Charlotte will be upset even though she practically threw them out. What do the paints symbolize to Charlotte? What do they symbolize to Adèle in relation to her graffiti? 
  11. Charlotte is very particular and precise when it comes to folding garments in her shop. What does this say about Charlotte as a person? And what does it say about Adèle when she does it wrong and appears to care less how they are folded? 
  12. Why does Charlotte want a baby so badly? Why do you think she buries her miscarriages in secret? 
  13. Adèle finds Charlotte drunk in her apartment after her miscarriage. However, Charlotte isn’t just hurting from the miscarriage, is she? There is a lot of resentment in Charlotte’s voice and it’s aimed right at Adèle. Why is Charlotte resentful? 
  14. Charlotte’s apartment appears picture-perfect, a plush blue divan that hasn’t been sat on, and many figurines displayed on shelves. What did we learn about Charlotte after seeing her apartment for the first time? The ending. In what ways does Marguerite represent the struggle for freedom, and the cost of achieving it? They grew incredibly close, and both saved each other’s life. What does her death signify to Adèle? And what about Charlotte? What is the significance of her running up hill through the catchfly?