Synopses & Reviews
It has been two years since the events of Christine Falls, the bestselling novel that introduced the world to an irascible Dublin pathologist named Quirke. Quirke's beloved Sarah has died, his surrogate father lies paralyzed by a stroke, and hes been sober for half a year. When a near-forgotten acquaintance asks him to cover up his beautiful young wifes apparent suicide, Quirke knows he should stay clear, for the sake of his sobriety and his peace of mind. But his old itch is irresistible, and before long he is probing further into the circumstances of Deidre Hunts death, into a web of drugs and illicit sex that may have snared his own daughter, Phoebe. With its vivid, intense evocation of 1950s Dublin, and intricate, psychologically complex storyline, The Silver Swan is "even more engrossing than last years Christine Falls" (Entertainment Weekly).
With its vivid, intense evocation of 1950s Dublin, and intricate, psychologically complex storyline, "The Silver Swan" is "even more engrossing than last year's "Christine Falls"" ("Entertainment Weekly").
About the Author
Benjamin Black is the pen name of acclaimed author John Banville, who was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His novels have won numerous awards, most recently the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea. He lives in Dublin.
Reading Group Guide
1. Describe Deirdres interest in Hakeem Kreutz, as compared to her interest in Leslie White? What draws her to each of them?
2. "Why did he persist in coming here like this," Quirke wonders, about his visits to the Judge. "Surely no one would blame him if he stayed away altogether and left the dying man to his angry solitude." Why does Quirke continue visiting, considering all that has happened between them?
3. "Do nothing, his better judgment told him; stay on dry land. But he knew he would dive, headfirst, into the depths. Something in him yearned for the darkness down there." What is it in Quirke that pushes him towards the darkness? Does he find any relief in this story? Would he be better off ignoring this impulse?
4. Why do you think Kreutzs story of the girl brought back from the dead (p. 61) makes such an impression on Deirdre? How does it relate to what we learn about her life?
5. Describe the relationship between Quirke and Hackett? Do the two like each other? What do they have in common?
6. Why do you think Phoebe gets involved with Leslie White? What is she hoping will happen between them?
7. Do you think Deirdre loves Leslie? If not, how would you characterize her feelings for him?
8. What effect do you think Phoebes complicated parentage (the discovery of her real father; the role of Malachy and Sarah) has on her behavior in the novel? Do you see any connection between those effects and the effect on Quirke of being an orphan?
9. Look at the exchange between Rose and Phoebe on p. 165, in which Phoebe tells Rose she admires her. What do you think she admires about Rose? And what does Rose mean when, in response, she says to Phoebe, "You certainly are your fathers daughter."?
10. Do you think the relationship between Quirke and Kate is a healthy one? What brings them together? What do they get from each other?
11. Is Quirke a good father to Phoebe? How do you think he should be handling his role with her?
12. Why does Quirke fall off the wagon at the end of the story?