Reading Group Guide
By Philippa Gregory
Reading Group Discussion Guide
Meridon knows she does not belong in the dirty, vagabond life of a gypsy bareback rider. The half-remembered vision of another life STAYS WITH HER, even as her beloved sister, Dandy, risks everything for their future. Alone, Meridon follows the PROMPTING of her dream, riding in the moonlight past the rusted gates, up the winding drive to a house -- clutching the golden clasp of the necklace that was her birthright -- home at last to Wideacre. The lost heir to one of England's great estates would take her place as its mistress...
Crowning the extraordinary trilogy that began with Wideacre and The Favored Child, Meridon is a rich, impassioned tapestry of a young woman's journey from dreams to glittering drawing rooms and elaborate deceits...from a simple hope to a deep and fulfilling love. Set in the savage contrasts of Georgian England -- a time alive with treachery, grandeur, and intrigue -- Meridon is Philippa Gregory's masterwork.
1. How does Meridon's gypsy life with Dandy, Da, and Zima compare with the world of "Wide" that she imagines? What explains her faith in the existence of this mysterious place that she calls her home and her refuge?
2. To what extent do Meridon and Dandy's lives change for the better when Robert Gower takes them on as part of his Amazing Aerial and Equestrian Show? How does Meridon's involvement in this show give her an enhanced sense of belonging and family? What aspects of her participation contribute to her increased isolation?
3. "Her name is Sarah! Sarah..." How does Meridon's true identity as Sarah Lacey, daughter of landed gentry and true heir to Wideacre, reveal itself over the course of the novel? How does her Quality background betray itself before the facts of her identity are known to her?
4. What explains the intense closeness Meridon feels toward her adopted sister, Dandy? How does Dandy's death affect Meridon, and how do her feelings for Dandy influence her relationships with others, both romantic and platonic?
5. "At the foot of the hill I could see the village. My village. The village my Mama had known. I saw it through my eyes, I saw it through her eyes." How does Meridon come into possession of Wideacre, and what role does her mother (and her mother's guardian James Fortescue) play in that transformation?
6. As a gypsy, Meridon has known poverty and hardship, but as Sarah Lacey, she comes to enjoy luxury and extreme affluence. How does Sarah's ownership of Wideacre affect her attitudes and views about the differences between the Quality and common folk?
7. Lady Clara Havering tells Sarah: "We live in a world where money is the measure of everything. There is never enough money. However much you have, you always want more." How do Sarah's experiences with Perry and Lady Clara bear out this statement? How do the Haverings's HAVERINGS" efforts to acquire land and wealth differ from Sarah's efforts?
8. Sarah is willing to marry Perry Havering because she believes she can dominate him and successfully control her land, not because she loves him. Why might such a practice (the loveless marriage) have been practiced in Georgian England? To what extent do you think Sarah's decision is driven by greed?
9. "I was never going to fall out of the charmed circle of the rich. I was never going to be poor again." What might explain Sarah's lack of sympathy for the poor in her midst? What does being poor represent to her? To what extent is Sarah's resolve to remain wealthy and index of her fear of the alternative?
10. As a young girl, Meridon asks an old fortuneteller: "Will I become a lady? Will I find my home?" and the fortuneteller replies with this riddle about Meridon's ancestors: "You'll belong to their land in a way they never could." How does the climactic end of Meridon fulfill the fortuneteller's prophecy in an unexpected way, and what role does Will Tyacke play in this development?
ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB
Please visit Philippa Gregory's own site with an active readers' group at Philippa Gregory.com.
1. To listen to an interview with Philippa Gregory, author of Meridon, in which she discusses her involvement with readers of her books, visit: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/writer.asp?cid=934860&cds2Pid=280&linkid=591638
2. If you were intrigued by Meridon's exploits as a member of Robert Gower's aerial and equestrian show, visit http://www.bobby-roberts.co.uk/history.htm to learn more about the history of the circus in England.
3. To learn more about the social conditions that enabled Sarah Lacey to catch typhus, visit http://www.victorianweb.org/science/health/health10.html and read up on infectious diseases of the 19th century.