Reading Group Guide for Janet Gleeson's
THE SERPENT IN THE GARDEN
1. What genre is The Serpent in the Garden
? To what does the title refer?
2. Who is narrating? How does this narrative style keep the mystery going?
3. In what place and time does the action occur? Starting on the first page, consider how Gleeson reveals the book's society and time frame. What are the social classes of the main characters? Share some examples of how the author establishes these with her language, tone, and cadence.
4. Describe each of the book's central characters and briefly discuss them. What are they like? What do their names -- Pope, Bentnick, Sabine, Cobb, Miss Lambton, Granger, Crackman, Hoare, Mercier -- reveal about them? What other writers use names as definers? Why do they do so?
5. Think about the locales and homes described in The Serpent in the Garden
. What do these houses tell us about their occupants? For example, what do an indoor arboretum and a pinery tell us about their owners? How about Joshua's rented rooms?
6. What is revealed about Joshua Pope in the opening chapter? Why does the author emphasize his attire? Discuss Miss Quick's later remark to Joshua, "I wonder if our preoccupation with dress is not just a means to deflect attention from deeper worries....Costume permits masquerade -- you have only to visit the playhouse to see the truth of it." Who might be masquerading in this story? In general, do you agree