Synopses & Reviews
When your father is a man of expensive tastes and schemes but very little money, you soon learn to make do. So when Captain Fortune, a well-meaning but profligate ex-soldier in Regency England, tells his daughter Caroline that they are ruined, she automatically starts seeking employment as a governess. Her father, however, has far grander designs for Miss Fortune....
Caro is to become the companion of Mrs. Catling, the rich, fierce widow of her father's old colonel. As Mrs. Catling amuses herself by tormenting her relatives and servants, Caro resolves to make the best of the situation, and soon her beauty and intelligence attract the attentions of male admirers.
Surrounded by people with an alarming readiness to reveal each other's confidences, Caroline is exasperated to find herself implicated in their indiscretions. But will Miss Fortune be able to avoid losing her reputation without losing her head? And will she find at least one good man amongst the genteel set who will take her side, and, indeed, her fancy?
When Caroline Fortune's father loses all they possess, she goes along with his scheme to set her up as the companion to a society woman. As she begins to attract the attentions of many so-called gentlemen, will Miss Fortune be able to keep from losing her head--or her reputation?
About the Author
Jude Morgan, who studied creative writing under Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter, lives in Peterborough, England.
Reading Group Guide
1. What do you think about Caroline? What are her strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and defeats? Does she fit the mold of the contemporary female heroine or does she break that mold? How?
2. Captain Fortune is an imperfect man and one of the least appealing characters in the book, and yet Caroline cares for him. In what ways does Captain Fortune let Caroline down and in what ways, if any, does he provide support? How do his mistakes and disappointments influence Carolines choices for herself?
3. Is there truth to Stephens initial judgment of Caroline? Is his description of her correct? To what extent is Caroline implicated in the troubles that fall upon the Millner household?
4. Which of the three central female characters——Caroline, Isabella, or Fanny——do you relate to most strongly? Why?
5. Caroline is often blamed for the indiscretions of others. What
factors play into this?
6. Discrepancy between perception and reality is a central theme of Indiscretion, i.e., prejudicial judgment of Caroline. Can you think of other examples of this theme in the book?
7. Are the characters of Mrs. Caitling, Mr. and Miss Downey, and
Mr. Leabrook wholly unlikable? How are they affected by the same social and economic considerations as Caroline?
8. Stephen is initially adamant about his aversion to the institution of marriage. Discuss the marriages in the book with respect to how well they fulfill various functions: social, financial, spiritual, etc.
9. How does the relationship between Stephen and Caroline change throughout the course of the novel? In light of their occasional quarrels and antagonistic banter, how do they really feel about each other at the beginning? Do their feelings change as the novel progresses? If they do, what incidents account for the change in feelings?
10. Indiscretion is, in some ways, a debate about the principles of rationalism, represented by Lady Millner, or even Isabella, and those of Romanticism, represented by Fanny. Where does Caroline stand among these diverging principles?
11. How does the book discuss the shaky social, financial, and legal ground upon which women stood during this time period? Do you think this discussion is affected by the fact that the author is male? If so, how?