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The Master Bedroomby Tessa Hadley
Reading Group Guide
1. What do you think happens in Suzies mind when the swan falls on her car? How does that event lead into all the changes in her behavior over the course of the novel—her interest in mysticism, her break with David?
2. "Even when [Kate] was a teenager, shed always known that this thing, this falling into a new obsession, was something you did to yourself." (pg. 79.) Do you think this is true of Kate? Is it true generally? Can we protect ourselves from these kind of feelings? Do they ever take hold without some willingness on our part?
3. How do the various characters rely on art, music and literature in their lives? How does the author use their tastes in art (or lack of them) to express other aspects of their personalities?
4. Why does the author include the short scene of David and Suzies first meeting (pp. 21-22)? Is there an understanding there, or a misunderstanding, that determines the course of their relationship?
5. What about David makes him attractive to Kate? What draws them together? Is it a genuine connection, or are they both seeking to escape their lives?
6. Is Kates cleverness a defense mechanism? Is it genuine?
7. What role does the house, Firenze, play in the novel? How do its history and its contents affect the characters interactions, and particularly Kates state of mind?
8. Were you surprised by Kates ideas about politics (pp 222-224)? Do you think there is any validity to what shes saying here, or is she purely aiming to shock the other guests?
9. Late in the novel, David has a dream that leads directly to his realization that he wants to be with Kate (pp. 276-277). How does this happen? What does he see in the dream that alters his thinking? How do you interpret the dream?
10. What do you think David sees in traffic at the end of the novel (pg. 309)? Is it entirely a figment of his imagination? Is some supernatural force at work? What is the connection between this instance and the opening scene, in which the swan falls onto Suzies car?
11. Do you think Menna, the fortune teller, is a fraud, capitalizing on Suzies desire to believe, or does she truly have access to some special knowledge? Do you think that some people truly do possess those abilities?
12. Is Kate unfair to Jamie? Does she take advantage of him?
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