Poet’s Cottage Book Club Questions


  • One of the main themes of the book is the haunting of the present by the past. Is it possible to escape the past, or does one’s history always find a way to revisit the present? What is the Importance of living in present not the past? pp28
  • Do you think Pearl’s story book characters Harriet and Bindi-eye man are symbolically significant? Do the images help to develop the plot, or help to define characters? other symbolism Tricky-Birdie, Spider-Maxwell, Angel-Emily
  • How realistic was the characterisation? Would you want to meet any of the characters? Did you like them? Hate them? Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?
  • Marguerite & Thomasina are born from the same mother (Pearl) yet they had polar perception of her. How can this be?
  • Do you think the novel’s setting in Poet’s Cottage as important as its characters? Do you think the cottage of Poet’s Cottage is as much a character of the book as its inhabitants?
  • How are the women a result of their upbringing and treatment? ie. Thomasina, Marguerite with her mentally unstable mother, Pearl with her mothers suicide attempt, Sadie with Marguerite and Betty with Sadie
  • There are many other themes in the book ie. Mental illness, infidelity, inter-generational women, childhood abuse. How important are these themes to the development of the plot?
  • Clearly Jean the medium get what she deserves in the end when dying in the train crash, is this classic Karma i.e. What goes around comes around. Do you believe in Karma?
  • What is the significance of the Birdie’s book titled “Webweaver”
  • What is the significance of the consistent reference “Tatlows always return”? pp22 & pp36
  • What was the significance of the blue buttons? Does this highlight Pearl’s mental illness even more?
  • There was reference to the sights of a cloaked women in 1940’s when the bones where discovered in chapel was this Violet already?
  • Do you think that Teddy’s murder was also plotted by the Medium Jean as well?
  • So much significance was placed on beauty, do we think this contributed to Pearl’s feeling towards Thomasina? As she is described as plain
  • Birdie is a perfect example of how a character develops over time as we see the contrast of the Birdie of the past to the birdie of the present. How do other characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
  • Really there is still a murder amongst them i.e. Violet. Do you think the characters are too forgiving of Violet or do you think she has been punished enough?


With thanks to Sandra Marta for hosting a wonderful evening at her house, supplying the above questions and for naming her chickens after characters from Poet’s Cottage.

Thank you Timeout Bookclub in Wynyard Tasmania for taking time out to meet at Stanley (inspiration for my fictional town of Pencubitt in Poet’s Cottage) and have a book club meeting exploring all the places in the sea-fishing village of Stanley that made it into the novel. Thanks to Nicole Chettle for sending these photographs through to me which I shall treasure.

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