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Mr Golightly's Holiday

1. The identity of Mr Golightly is revealed only slowly. What clues are we given to his true identity? Is there a reason why the revelation is made gradually and why he is given the name he goes under? How does all this contribute to our sense of Mr Golightly.

2. "He had come away for a rest, a holiday, yet he found he was tired .." Mr Golightly has come to Great Calne for a holiday. Why might he need one? And is there a sense that his visit to Great Calne, for all its accidents and traumas, is, in the end, a true 'holiday' for Mr Golightly?

3. How would you define Mr Golightly's values? What are his likes and dislikes, and why? Where, and at what key scenes, do we see them revealed?

4. Martha puts Mr Golightly on to "Neighbours" which he plans to use as a model for his own soap opera. But in the end, it is his human neighbours who recreate the drama. What might the novel be trying to show us here? How does Mr Golightly learn from his human neighbours? And what roles do Johnny, Ellen, Paula, Luke and the vicar play in the story? Is it significant that they are all somewhat outcasts, on the edge of Great Calne society?

5. Luke is writing an epic poem based on a North American Indian creation myth. Mr Golightly has also "created" a work of fiction - and he has come to Great Calne for recreational purposes, but also to "re-create". So "creation" and "recreation" are key themes in the book. At several points, Mr Golightly draws a comparison between creating a character and other kinds of creation, including "creating" a child. For example, he discusses parenthood with Johnny's mother. How are all these strands connected in the story? Is anything being said about free will?

6. In all Salley Vickers's novels, death and its relation to life is a central theme. The "catastrophe" which has so affected Mr Golightly is the death of his beloved son, "his own dearest creation". What role has his son's death had in Mr Golightly's own history and development? Is there a sense that death has role in evolution, both of Mr Golightly and that of the people of Great Calne?

7. "The characters in the original drama were only apparently unlike those of the present day. Human nature hadn't changed, of course, but custom had, and the times." There is a good deal in the book about Mr Golightly's own feeling that he needs to get up to date. How does this relate the novel's deeper themes given the identity of Mr Golightly? Does the book have anything to say about the role of religion in modern life?

8. The countryside of Dartmoor, its wildlife and seasonal changes have been compared to the evocation of Venice in "Miss Garnet". Do you think there is a reason why Salley Vickers takes such care to establish a very physical and exactly observed environment for her novels? How does this contribute to her metaphysical, other worldly themes?

9. Mr Golightly's business rival e-mails him with words from his own Great Work? "The phantom e-mailer had been sending questions he himself had posed centuries ago ... It appeared that someone or something was giving him a taste of his own medicine." What might be the point of this? Why does Mr Golightly fail to recognise his own words and does the story of Job have anything to teach Mr Golightly?

10. Salley Vickers has said that if there is a "Higher Power" she is sure it has a sense of humour. Mr Golightly is in a state of chronic mourning yet his tone is often humorous. At the end of the book he has a conversation with his business rival about comedy and tragedy. How does this fit with the ideas already sown in the story about creation, recreation and free will? And what radical fact do we discover about the death of Mr Golightly's son?





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