Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Do you think Muriella Pent is the right title for this novel? What about if it had been called Marcus Royston, or Stilwoode Park?
2. Who is your favourite minor character in Muriella Pent? Why?
3. For this book, critics have compared Russell Smith to writers as diverse as Evelyn Waugh, D.H. Lawrence, Mordecai Richler and Margaret Atwood. Which other novels would you compare Muriella Pent with? Do you think any of them had a particular influence on the author?
4. Did any of Muriella Pent make you laugh out loud? What is the effect of humour in the book?
5. Do you agree with Marcus that art’s real force is as an exploration of the “dark things that motivate us”? Is Muriella Pent an instance of this, or does it have its own social "message"?
6. Discuss either race / political correctness / the proper role of art / the legacy of empire in Muriella Pent.
7. Marcus Royston made no move. "It’s wonderful that this is a Canadian, if you don’t mind my saying colonial, copy of a movement that was long dead in Britain and which was itself a copy of some mythical medieval past." He chuckled some more. "So when you say authentic you mean an authentic copy of a copy."
Discuss Marcus Royston’s reactions to Canada, a place he also describes as "a country without a style."
8. What are your criticisms of Muriella Pent?
9. If you have read any of Russell Smith’s other books, how do you compare Muriella Pent to them? (Did you recognize any characters from other books making cameo appearances here?)
10. What do you think of the ending of Muriella Pent?