Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Talk about Lil as a narrator. How does your opinion of her change throughout the book? Do you like her? Is she a reliable narrator?
2. Describe the relationship between Lil and Veronica. What brings the women together? What do you think of their friendship?
3. Fairies are a constant presence in the novel, in the human world as well as in the world of Lil’s past: in the fairytales in George’s shop, in the fairy paintings in the Frick, in Veronica’s book about the Cottingley fairies. Talk about other representations of fairies you’ve come across. What do you think accounts for the popularity of these representations in our culture? What makes fairies such a robust subject for the imagination?
4. Lil is often hungry. What does this mean? What does her relationship to food say about her emotional state generally?
5. What are the differences between the fairy world and the human world? What does each world offer to Lil? What is attractive and unattractive about each world? Do you agree with the way Lil characterizes the human world?
6. How does the Cinderella in this book differ from more traditional representations? How would you describe this Cinderella? What do you believe accounts for the choices she makes?
7. Characterize the relationship between Lil and Cinderella, and how it progresses and shifts throughout the book. What do you make of those shifts?
8. Retellings of the Cinderella story, as well as of other stories and myths, are more popular than ever. Why do you think is? Why are these stories so powerful? What function, if any, do you think they serve for us?
9. Why is the prince so attractive to Lil? What do you think of her emphasis on him seeing her? Is Lil in love with the prince in your opinion? Why or why not?
10. Two phrases are repeated through the novel, both from books Lil sees in George’s shop: “What happens in the world of faerie is manifested in the world of men” and “All my old loves will be returned to me.” What do these phrases mean? How would you explain the import of each within the novel?
11. Lil, Veronica, George, and Cinderella have all experienced significant losses. What has each of them lost? How do they deal with those losses? Is there anyone in the book who has not experienced some kind of loss?
12. Several of the characters are preoccupied with the past, their own and/or the past in general. Why? What does it mean for them?
13. Another theme in the book is physical beauty, and the deterioration of physical beauty. How does the aging of Lil’s physical body affect her? Can you relate to Lil’s relationship to her body?
14. How do you explain the events at the end of the book? Do they change your opinion of Lil? Do they change your reading of the story?
15. Fast-forward six months after the book ends. Where do you see each character? Are they better or worse off than they were before?