Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- Have you been to Trinidad? If so, how well do you think Monique Roffey captures the country, its politics, and its internal race relations? If you've never visited the region, how has reading this book changed or confirmed your conceptions of Trinidad?
- Is it wise for Talbot to accept George's help? Does he have a choice?
- In one of her many letters to Eric Williams, Sabine writes, "George has gone mad. He sleeps with other women, flaunts his charms. All this has gone to his head
Too much rum. Too many beautiful women on this goddamn island" (p. 48). Do youlike Sabinebelieve that George would have been more faithful to her if they'd remained in England?
- Can you empathize with Sabine's fascination with Eric Williams? Have you ever felt a similar connection to a public figure?
- If at all, how does Sabine's own mixed heritage affect her feelings toward the Trinidadian people?
- Pascale's "children's dark skin had been a surprise to them all. They'd come out much darker than their father, who wouldn't admit he had any African in him at all" (p. 70). The novel hints that Pascale might have been fathered by a black man, yet Sabine never recollects having sexual relations with Williams. How reliable are Sabine's memories? Is she capable of "forgetting" such an affair?
- George likes the fact that "this island was uncompromising and hard for tourists to negotiate
Trinidad was oil-rich, didn't need tourism" (p. 78). Is his prejudice against tourists hypocritical?
- When George interviews Eric Manning, the current prime minister harshly dismisses him, saying, "You are the past and you can stick your critique of my government, elected by the people, for the people, up your pathetic old white ass" (p. 166). Do you agree or disagree with Manning's assessment?
- How do you think Bobby Comacho's murder will affect the novel's survivors?
- Whatif anythingdo you believe the colonizers owe to their former colonies?
- After the earthquake, George and Sabine "remained clutching each other" (p. 173) while they declare their abiding love for each other. Is fifty shared years and two children enough to mitigate the pain they've inflicted on each other? Would you call what they still feel love?
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.