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Game of Secretsby Dawn Clifton Tripp
Reading Group Guide
1. Discuss the role of love in Game of Secrets, particularly the role it plays in the three women’s lives. How does love relate to the other themes in the novel, such as longing, absence, violence, and memory?
2. At one point, toward the end of the game, Jane says to Ada: "Love is only this: A tiny nothing, a slip of the tongue, a glance. A world can be built on a glance." Do you agree? Discuss.
3. Consider the differences among the three women in the novel, and how these qualities affect their interactions, and the courses of their individual lives. How does the friendship between Ada and Jane impact Marne’s relationship with her mother? In what ways are Jane and Marne similar and in what ways are they different? What do the women learn about themselves through one another? Does this reflect dynamics in the female relationships in your own life?
4. What are the secrets that are kept in the novel, and who keeps them? What are the secrets that are told, and how does the telling impact the story? Are there mysteries that still remain at the novel’s end? If so, what are they and why do you think the author left them unresolved?
5. Discuss the role of silence in the novel. How do Jane and Ada, as well as the other characters, use - or refuse - language in order build their lives and their relationships with others? Are there silences in your family and in your friendships that are necessary to keep? What do those silences represent? Discuss.
6. Luce, and the mystery surrounding his death, plays a pivotal role in the story, yet he is little more than a ghost. How does the absence of this man - rather than his presence - drive the story? How do other forms of loss function in the novel? Do you believe that absence can propel us as much or more than presence? Discuss.
7. The bridge that joins the small town of Westport to the world outside is a significant metaphor in Game of Secrets. To Jane and Ada, the bridge and the new highway also mark a distinct separation between the past and the present. Discuss. In what sense does the past keep these characters together and in what sense does it break them apart?
8. Game of Secrets is a ‘mosaic’ narrative, in that it is told from the perspective of several different characters. It also moves back and forth in time. Why do you think Tripp chose to tell the story this way? What do we learn that we might not know otherwise?
9. One central motif in the novel is the Scrabble game that Ada and Jane play every Friday. Why do you think Tripp chose this particular game? Discuss the ways the structure of the narrative echoes the game that Jane and Ada play.
10. Ada and Jane have very different styles of play. What do these styles reveal about how each woman has chosen to live her life? Is your style of play more closely aligned with Jane’s or with Ada’s? What do you think this says about you, if anything? Tripp has said that Scrabble was an important game in her family while she was growing up. Are there games that have been essential in your life, and in the life of your family?
11. Marne's hatred for Huck is overt and palpable in the early stages in the novel. Discuss what Huck represents to Marne. Are there commonalities between them, as well the differences, that breed Marne’s loathing? How do her feelings for him change over the course of the novel? Why? How did your understanding of Huck evolve in the course of the novel?
12. Both Jane and Marne have a particular and almost secretive relationship with books in Game. Jane writes in the margins of her books of poetry, conversing in a way she doesn't seem to do in life, while Marne excises passages from books, a habit that then transforms into her work with origami. What do Marne’s origami birds represent to you? How do the birds inform her character, her life, and her relationships?
13. At the end of the novel, several essential secrets are revealed. Do these revelations change the way you understand Jane and the story? Looking back over the novel, do you now see clues you didn’t pick up on the first reading?
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