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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire



It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »

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City of Light

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Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of City of Light by Lauren Belfer. We hope they will enrich your experience of this fascinating novel.

1. In City of Light, the upper echelons of Buffalo society all get what they want by cultivating an "acceptable" image under which they can do what they want, regardless of its moral implications. How does this rationalize their behavior, as well as hide it?

2. Faced with a social order that demanded this "acceptable" behavior, was there any other way Louisa could react when faced with a crisis — such as Millicent's abduction or the vandalization of her school?

3. Are there any main characters in this story who don't follow society's code? Who and why?

4. Louisa likes to think of her students as "a generation of subversives who took up their expected positions in society and then, day by day, bit by bit, fostered a revolution." Do you think that this is what she achieved with her students? Was it the best way she had to help the social progress of women?

5. Why do none of the members of Buffalo society become involved with the faction that is worried about the affects of the power plant on the environment?

6. In protecting Grace, was Louisa doing the right thing? Did her focus on the little girl blind her, impairing her judgement, as with her decision to not turn Susannah Riley in?

7. Would Louisa have been better off moving away from Buffalo and merely keeping in touch with the Sinclair family? Would Grace have been better off?

8. If Abigail's mother wanted to keep her daughter's child far away from Abigail and from scandal, why didn't she have him adopted in a family far away, instead of sending it to the asylum?

9. Why does Mr. Rumsey let Louisa know that he planned her meeting with Cleveland? Would she have been better off never knowing?

10. Why does Mr. Rumsey seem surprised that Louisa might have suffered from her experience of conceiving Grace — or that she feels badly about her "loss of innocence?"

11. In 1901, Buffalo is one of the richest, most sophisticated cities in the nation. How does this influence Louisa's life, and the lives of the wealthy citizens of the city? What do they hope to achieve on the brink of a new century?

Bonus questions:

What motivates Tom Sinclair's dreams of electrical power? Is it the vision of industrial progress, the hope of personal fame and wealth, or something else?

Why was Francesca Coatsworth able to maintain her "alternative" lifestyle and still be such an influential member of society?

Why do you think Francesca allowed Sarah to disappear into Singapore after she confessed her crimes?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780440235125
Author:
Belfer, Lauren
Publisher:
Random House
Location:
New York
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
City and town life
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Detective and mystery stories
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Industrial revolution
Subject:
Women school principals.
Subject:
Buffalo
Copyright:
Series Volume:
v. 2
Publication Date:
2000
Binding:
Mass Market Paperbou
Language:
English
Pages:
689 p.
Dimensions:
6.92x4.18x1.15 in. .71 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » Regency

City of Light Used Mass Market
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Product details 689 p. pages Dell Publishing Company - English 9780440235125 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Belfter's critically acclaimed debut novel brings to life the power, politics, and mystery of 1901 Buffalo, New York. The attractive headmistress of a school for girls is treated as an equal by the men who control the city--until a mysterious death at the Niagra Falls hydroelectric plant exposes her concealed past.
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