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
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
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?