The novel describes a set of behaviors and actions taken by the main characters in the story who responded to the legal, ethical, family, historic, and medical conditions that existed at that time. Readers may wish to reflect on what they might have done differently, both in the present-day circumstances as well as in the circumstances that existed at the time. Here are twelve suggested questions:
1. Under the conditions described in the novel would you have allowed the baby to be born; if so, what would you have done with the child at birth?
2. Immediately after the rape, would you have disclosed the assault to your parents and/or authorities, or have kept quiet as did Mary Louise?
3. Would you have accepted Jock McGregor’s proposal of marriage as described in Chapter 9? If not, would you have personally acted to inform his wife of your pregnancy in an effort to secure financial support? How would you have done this?
4. Would you have accepted the arranged marriage when proposed by Bob Hutchinson, given his age and health circumstances, and considering that Mary Louise had an open invitation to live with Nan Dawson?
5. Would you have persevered with your marriage to Bob Hutchinson for 20 years, given his behaviors during that time, and including the side effects of diabetes? At what point might you have left him?
6. How would you have supported Mary Louise – if at all – if you had been her work supervisor while she was pregnant, and during the uncertainties of war?
7. How might you have behaved after the sexual assault had you been Jock McGregor? Would you have questioned being the father and kept the event secret?
8. When do you consider Jock should have told his wife about the baby and why? Was he right to keep it a secret from her given the family circumstances?
9. If you had been Gwen, Jock’s wife, what actions would you have taken once you had discovered that he had fathered an illegitimate child in Yorkshire and had kept it secret for fourteen years?
10. Would you be prepared to section/forcibly place a loved one in to a mental home?
11. What might you have done with regard to your marriage and the relationships with the children once you discovered that Jock’s suicide was fake? Not in the novel, but at one stage, Jock even asked his wife for financial support after he returned to the West Midlands from San Francisco.
12. Would you have befriended Jock in the early 1960’s in the way that Michael Fromm allowed him in to his home in San Francisco and permitted him to befriend his fifteen year old daughter?
Enjoy your discussions. I doubt that there is any right or wrong answer, only many answers. Thank you for reading this novel.