So tomorrow is the launch of Killing Hapless Ally and it occurred to me that, since we haven’t published book group questions and starting points at the back of the book, I’d do some here. You know, in case, wherever you are in the world, you belong to a book group and would like to tackle the book (as I know a couple of book groups local to me are already planning to do) – maybe with a few ideas to get you going?
Who is Alison and who is Hapless Ally? Are the same person or two separate people?
Would you describe Hapless Ally as real?
What is your opinion of Santa Maria?
Who is the most horrible person in the book and to whom do you warm most?
Did you guess the ending?
What’s the significance of the book’s title? Is it simple and straightforward, or something more complex and nuanced?
Did you like the names for people and places in the book?
Did you take offence to any of the descriptions – for example, of the f…… caravan, the funerals, dying?
There are many literary references shot through the narrative. Some are obvious and documented explicitly in the text (and thus you will see them on the acknowledgements page) but some are harder to spot. So get spotting!
Did you feel that you learned more about mental health from the book?
Did you think that the book gives us insights into therapeutic practice and the sort of help available (although I feel I must add, not routinely available) through our National Health Service in the UK?
Did the book help you? By which I mean, did it make you feel better about your own problems or state of mind? Did it give you a nudge to tackle things that are holding you back and making you unhappy?
Was the book shocking? If so, why?
Is it a happy ending? Is it over – in a good way?
Who was your favourite imaginary friend – and why? Dolly, Shirley, Albert, JK….
Did you feel sympathy for Santa Maria? For Dad? For Brother who Might as well be Dead? For Terry?
What do you think of Dixie Delicious?
What makes you laugh in the book? Is it the pickled egg murder/horrible deaths/caravan of evil/revenge on the tutus…?
What does the book show us about the power of literature and, more broadly, of the written word? What of the spoken – the “curses ringing”?
Why do you think there’s a shift in narrative from first to third person between the prologue and chapter one? Do you think it’s successful?
What’s the significance of the foreword to the rest of the book?
Is Alison strong, or is she weak?
Did all this really happen? Do you believe it did? Why?