Reading guide for The Likeness by Tana French

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The Likeness

A Novel

By Tana French

The Likeness
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  • Hardcover: Jul 2008,
    480 pages.
    Paperback: May 2009,
    480 pages.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Early on in the book, Cassie Maddox says that “all the best undercovers have a dark thread woven into them, somewhere.” What is hers?

  2. For Cassie, going undercover is almost a compulsion. What drives her to accept Frank’s offer and take on Operation Mirror?

  3. The rule at Whitethorn House is “no pasts,” yet the house is seeped in history and artifacts from earlier eras. How does the house help its inhabitants avoid their own histories?

  4. Undercover, Cassie slowly gets drawn into life at Whitethorn House and develops a fondness for Lexie’s idiosyncratic housemates. What is it about this world that is so enchanting for her?

  5. Cassie says this is Lexie Madison’s story, not hers, yet she tells it like it’s her own. Whose story do you think it is?

  6. Commitment is an issue for Cassie, as she can’t seem to settle down with a desk job or her boyfriend. At the same time, she has chosen to work undercover and devote her every hour to this case—a very serious commitment of a different kind. Is this a contradiction in her personality, or are they complementary behaviors?

  7. Daniel, Abby, Rafe, Justin, and Lexie’s relationship is a fascinating study of group dynamics and each character plays a distinct role. Just as Lexie did before her, Cassie can home in on who she needs to be to fit in. Do you think this is something most people do in social situations or is it a special skill?

  8. What does posing as Lexie teach Cassie about herself? What are the differences between the two characters and where does Cassie draw the line?

  9. Cassie wonders if Frank Mackey may have had a stronger hunch about the killer than he was admitting all along. Do you think he knew who the killer was?

  10. French leaves the story of what happened the night of the stabbing somewhat open. What do you think really happened to Lexie and who was truly responsible?

    Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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