Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Discuss Kate’s role as the narrator of this story. What effect does her perspective have on your reading? How much do you trust her to be true to the facts?
2. Was Kate correct to suspect Dr. Gardonne’s motives right from the start? Or does “paranoia” play a part here? And if so, is there a sense that paranoia helped her solve the case? Consider also the role of Bozo, who was labelled a “paranoid” by Konzak.
3. In what ways is Seduction a conventional detective story? What elements distinguish it from the genre?
4. Kate and Jackie travel far and wide — Vienna, Toronto, London, New York, the Isle of Wight — during their search. Discuss how Gildiner brings these places to life for readers, through Kate’s eyes and her memories.
5. In her author’s note at the start of the novel, Gildiner states that she “freely altered” historical information about the lives of Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud and Charles Darwin for the sake of her fictional storyline. Discuss the responsibility, if any, novelists have to the facts of history.
6. Discuss Kate’s attitude towards the murder of her husband. Is she dispassionate? How may her years behind bars have affected her perceptions? What do you think really happened that day?
7. In the first chapter, Kate tells us of Freud’s belief that everyone is born with two drives, sex and aggression, and that what interested him was what happened when these drives are curtailed — for instance, when we use defences like repression, denial, intellectualization and sublimation. How does this theory play out in the events and characters of Seduction?
8. Both Kate and Jackie have come up with ways to deal with their feelings of guilt and shame — Kate analyzes her emotional reactions and throws herself into her studies; Jackie lives in the moment and refuses to feel shame for the past. How healthy do you think they are, emotionally and psychologically? Consider both characters in terms of how prison has affected or shaped them.
9. Do you think that the truths uncovered about Freud and Darwin would have struck the blow to psychoanalysis that Gardonne and the rest of the industry feared?
10. Why does Kate feel such a bond with Anna Freud? In what ways are they similar, or different? Think particularly of their childhoods and their relationships.
11. Discuss the quote from Freud that opens this novel. Do you think "every normal person" has some psychotic element to his or her psyche? What about the characters in this book?
12. How do the letters, diary excerpts, notes, papers and other documents included in the text add depth to Seduction? Did you ever find yourself forgetting that you were reading fiction?
13. In what ways is Kate affected by her visits to the house that Bozo, Shawna, The Wizard and Edgar live in? What do these characters and their lifestyle represent in the novel? And what do you make of The Wizard’s disappearance?
14. In chapter 4, Kate and Jackie discuss Freud’s seduction theory and how it morphed into the Oedipus complex, as they try to get to the root of Konzak’s plans. Discuss these theories and their role in this novel, both in past events and in the current story. For instance, what kind of relationships do Kate, Jackie, Dr. Gardonne and Anna Freud have with their parents?
15. Discuss Seduction and its characters (such as Jackie, Kate, Dr. Von Enchanhauer, The Wizard) in terms of the Darwinian statement "Only the fittest survive."
16. What do you think of the relationship between Kate and Jackie? What does the future hold for them? Is romance likely?