Reading guide for Christine Falls by Benjamin Black

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Christine Falls

A Novel

by Benjamin Black

Christine Falls
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 352 pages
    Feb 2008, 352 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

About this Guide
The following author biography and list of questions about Christine Falls are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach Christine Falls.

About the Book
Set in Dublin and Boston in the 1950s, the story of a surly, hard-drinking pathologist named Quirke who uncovers a conspiracy that begins with his brother-in-law and reaches deep into Dublin's Catholic society--and into his own past.

Discussion Questions

  1. "In secret," the author writes, "Quirke prized his loneliness as a mark of some distinction" (pg. 12). What does Quirke's loneliness do for him? How does it make possible what he ultimately accomplishes in the story?
    Is Quirke's isolation part of what allows him to see the truth about the conspiracy around him?
  2. What does Crawford mean when he says to Quirke that America is "the New World", that "This is the place. God's country". How are Ireland and America treated differently in the novel?
    How do these portrayals relate to the current America and Ireland?
  3. Do the revelations about Quirke, Phoebe, and what he knew about their relationship change your perception of how he treated her earlier in the novel? Why do you think Quirke kept the secret so long of who her parents were? Was it the right decision?
  4. Early in the novel, Quirke is thinking about his late wife Delia: "Perhaps he had cared for her more than he knew, had cared for what she was, that is, and not just what she had been to him."
    How do these two different types of caring come into play for other characters in the novel? Do you think they are always distinct from each other? Are some people capable only of one or the other?
  5. What do you think of the overall portrait of the Catholic Church that emerges from the novel?
    Did you find the conspiracy plausible? Did you feel sympathy for the nuns, the Staffords, and other less powerful figures who were complicit in it?
  6. Consider the difference between Quirke's early childhood, first in a brutal orphanage and then in an adoptive home, and Mal's, as the natural-born son of a wealthy father who loved him less than his brother. How do you think their respective childhoods can be connected to the decisions they make in their relationships in this story?
  7. What role does social class play in the novel?
  8. Why do you think Quirke sleeps with Rose? Is she right when she tells him, "You're more like me than your precious Sarah. A cold heart and a hot soul."?
  9. What do you think drew Quirke and Sarah together initially? Do you think they were better off for having stayed apart throughout the years, despite an acknowledged love for each other?
  10. Quirke realizes midway through the novel that as .Mr. Punch and fat Judy. were beating him, the prospect of his own death was insignificant, that .he had thought he was going to die and was surprised at how little he feared the prospect.. Is this is a sign of bravery in Quirke, or despair, or both? Do you think his own life matters more or less to him by the end of the novel?
  11. At the end of chapter 28 a nun says to Quirke, "From the little I've seen of you, you're a good man, if only you knew it.. Do you agree with her assessment? What does she mean by, "if only you knew it." Would knowing it change his behavior?
  12. What do you imagine happening after the end of the book? How will Quirke's relationship to his family evolve, including to Sarah and Phoebe? Have the events in this story made him a happier man, a better man? Or have they changed him for the worse?

For more information on Picador Reading Group Guides:
Call: 646-307-5259
Fax: 212-253-9627
For a complete listing of reading group guides visit:

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

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.