The Key – reading group questions
- What do you think is the central theme of the book, and how did it resonate with you?
- The novel’s title, The Key, can be interpreted in several different ways. Which do you find the most significant?
- What effect did the drama of the novel’s Prologue have on your subsequent reading of the book?
- Which of the three women in the novel (Sarah, Ellen, Amy) did you most empathise with and why?
- Which of the three, if any, do you feel is the driving force in the novel?
- How did you feel about the development of the characters in the story? Who do you feel grew the most over the course of the novel?
- What did you think of the character of Stephen Lambourn?
- How did you feel about the ending?
The Secret – reading group questions
- How does Kathryn Hughes depict what life was like in 1970s England, including the cultural attitudes. Which scenes stood out in your mind?
- The author was inspired by a real-life mining disaster. How did you feel this affected your response to the novel?
- What do you consider to be the major themes of The Secret and how are they explored? Which theme stood out particularly strongly?
- What do you think this novel says about love? Which relationship in the story do you think gives the strongest example of love?
- Secrets are a central theme in the novel. Do you think keeping a secret is ever justified?
- What did you think of the choice made by Daisy and the choice made by Mary?
- Beth is faced with a great deal of emotional stress in extraordinary circumstances in the novel. Which of the characters did you most sympathise with and why?
- The novel asks the question, how far would you go for someone you love? How do you think you’d react in the same situation as any of the main characters?
The Letter – reading group questions
- Which of the main characters in the novel did you most empathise with and why?
- What are the central themes of this novel?
- The author uses real events as a backdrop to the plot. How did this affect your response to the novel?
- The book is divided into three stories – Tina’s, Chrissie’s and William’s. What did this structure bring to your experience of the novel?
- What do you think this novel says about survival?
- Love is a central theme in The Letter. What are the different examples of love in the novel?
- How does the author show Britain in 1970s compared to 1940s? Do you think people’s attitudes had shifted over time?
- What did you think of the character of Rick? Can you understand why Tina acted as she did?
- By the end of the novel, did your view of a character change as you were reading? Was the novel’s ending what you were hoping for?