Reading guide for The Webster Chronicle by Daniel Akst

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

The Webster Chronicle

by Daniel Akst

The Webster Chronicle by Daniel Akst X
The Webster Chronicle by Daniel Akst
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Nov 2002, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

Discussion Questions

  1. In The Webster Chronicle, it is unclear whether Belinda Jackson is telling the whole truth about the reason for her daughter's death in the car wreck. Is her daughter's confession of child abuse the real reason for Belinda's crash, or was she just another drunk driver who killed an innocent person?

     
  2. Since the first allegations of child abuse at Alphabet Soup came from Belinda Jackson and Lucille Lyttle, the first of which killed her daughter while driving drunk, and the second of which is an alcoholic who is loyal to Belinda, what are your first reactions to these allegations? Especially considering the conflicting evidence which might support allegations of child abuse: that Frank and Emily Joseph lost a child once, that Emily was sexually abused by her uncle when she was little, and that Frank is capable of spanking a child?

     
  3. Terry Mathers's journalistic alter ego, Tartaglia, plays devil's advocate to Terry's other work in the Chronicle. Like Terry, how does Akst's story constantly cause the reader to play devil's advocate and to vacillate back and forth in opinion as well?

     
  4. Aside from the affair between Abigail and Charles Krieger, how else is Terry's livelihood directly connected to Krieger's? How does Krieger's contribute to the growing hysteria of "disclosures"?

     
  5. Does the fact that Frank has an affair with Annette lessen his credibility as an innocent and honest man? What about the situation with Anja? In second-person narration, we find out from Frank that "nothing happened" at Alphabet Soup. Does this declaration close the door on the possibility that Frank is a child molester?

     
  6. The Webster Chronicle explores the ways in which a child's sense of reality is largely created by his or her parents. But how does The Chronicle also contribute to the eventual hysteria that takes place in Webster?

     
  7. Each of the illicit sexual affairs in The Webster Chronicle complicates the situation at Alphabet Soup in some way. Using Julie/Chris, Abigail/Charles, and Terry/Diana, explain.

     
  8. In many ways, Akst instills in the reader the same skepticism, gullibility, and shifts in perception that occur within the characters in the novel. For example, Detective Jepson and Julie seem in the beginning of the investigations to be a virtuous family man and a closet Satan-worshipper, respectively, but by the end of the novel, their images change. Julie becomes an innocent victim of the fever of "disclosures" about child abuse, while Jepson morphs into a sort of McCarthy figure, driving giddily around town, pointing at potential child abusers and also being accused of assault himself by Diana. What do you think Akst might be saying about how we can influence our own perception? If children get their sense of reality from their parents, where do adults get their reality from? In other words, what informs the "truth", the search for which is at the center of the novel?

     
  9. Do you think Terry's devotion to rectifying the damage his articles caused is sufficient penance, considering the terrible things that befall Jesus, Albertson, Pearl, and the other innocent Alphabet Soup employees? Can he now consider himself "successful", just as he once considered his father? How does Terry's view of success change by the end of the novel?

Discussion questions provided courtesy of Putnam Pub Group.



Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Blue Hen Publishing. 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" articles
  • 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 $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...
  • Book Jacket: Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    by Alison Espach
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance will make you ache for a loss you didn't experience as you relate...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Carolina Moonset
by Matt Goldman
An engrossing novel about family, memories and secrets too dangerous to stay hidden.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Jackie & Me
    by Louis Bayard

    Master storyteller Louis Bayard delivers a surprising portrait of a young Jackie Kennedy as we've never seen her before.

  • Book Jacket

    One's Company
    by Ashley Hutson

    For readers of Ottessa Moshfegh this fearless debut chronicles one woman's escape into a world of obsessive imagination.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.