Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Do you think the book’s speculative agenda, its parallel narratives, explore a disquiet particularly characteristic of midlife? Is it an unrest limited to middle age? Why or why not?
2. 2.Discuss Dunant’s portrayal of Anna’s unconventional “family.” Is it a sufficient replacement for a typical nuclear family, in your opinion? What did you make of the rivalry between Estella and Paul, or that between Anna and Michael, for that matter? How does the childhood loss of her own mother inform Estella’s feelings for Lily?
3. How does the disingenuous nature of Anna’s affair with the art dealer heighten its intensity, for both? What is Dunant suggesting about the nature of sexual intimacy and personal trust?
4. Do you think Dunant succeeds in her divergent storytelling? How do differing versions of the truth work to subvert the form of the typical thriller? How does the double plot serve as a metaphor for the duality of Anna’s desires, or those of anyone? How does Dunant resolve this dilemma, in your opinion? Does she?
5. Discuss Dunant’s comparison of the physical connection between a mother and child to that of a woman and her lover. How are the varieties of love and desire intertwined here–for better and for worse?
6. Discuss the intense, visceral love Anna and Lily feel for one another. According to Dunant, to what extent can Anna have a life separate from Lily?