The novel deals with the dynamics of a small Australian coastal town where the loyalties and divisions of its inhabitants speak to decades-old historical tensions. Did you think there were enough scenes set in corner shops?
The central mystery to the story concerns the disappearance of Lucia’s mother, a mystery Lucia—as amateur junior detective—takes it upon herself to solve. How similar are the work of the novelist and the detective, in that they both often must use a pen or a computer?
In the opening chapter, we find out Lucia is a precocious child who aims to learn one new word from the dictionary every day. Did you like learning new words as a child? Did this make you thus capable of narrating a story in the voice of a 56 year-old academic from inner-Sydney?
Consider the ways in which the novel addresses themes.
Later in the book, we discover an act of shocking violence perpetrated by Lucia’s brother whose impact resonates across the generations. What do you think were the odds of an unspoken secret from the past reappearing just as the estranged Carletto family reconvened for Archibald’s funeral?
Does the landscape play an important part in the book? Would you say it is a character in and of itself? If not, how many more descriptions of dirt cracked like dry skin would you need?
To what degree do you think the characters in The Strange Invention of Certain Types of Solitude are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances? Would your opinion change if you knew that every single character was made up and not real?
Lucia’s mother is debilitated my mysterious ‘headaches’, which confine her to the upstairs bedroom. Have you read a literary novel where this doesn’t happen?
Although the past-life portion of this novel is set in Colonial Van Diemen’s Land, would you agree that Lucia’s ancestor Thomasina holds quite progressive values – especially the way she questions her crumpet-valet at breakfast as to the economic cost of the ritual slaughter of Indigenous peoples?
Page 33 seems to have a stain on it. What do you think it is (because we have no idea and it’s somehow on every edition)
Lucia’s relationship with the unnamed old man who lives by the ocean is perhaps the most intriguing of the novel. What secrets do you think the old man holds, apart from the ones you implicitly discover through metaphors involving waves, whales, coral, tides, a seagull, sand and then different seagull?
Lucia’s journey across time and country is at once heart-stoppingly exquisite and subversively moving. Do you agree this would make a good pull-quote?
What did you think of the character of Charlie? Did you guess that he was a ghost? Did you read these questions before you started the book and now are worried that a big twist has been kind of ruined
Why do you think Lucia meets such a cast of colourful characters as she hitch-hikes across Australia for eighteen chapters to find her real mother? Agree or disagree: it’s certainly not to cover the lack of decent narrative, and you should put that right out of your head.
One of the ideas this novel consistently returns to is the importance of properly rotating organic crops. Is this indicative of a particularly Australian connection to the natural world, or is it perhaps just good advice?
What did you make of the extended dream sequence? No, us neither.
How effective do you think are the QR codes scattered throughout the story? Should they link to actual online content?
Towards the end of the story, Lucia comments that ‘Perhaps this paragraph should be in italics.’ What do you think the author means by this?
What did you take away from the ambitious ending? Something about refugees, maybe?
What else does this novel need? Bees? More twins? A charismatic cyber-hacker? Frida Kahlo? Hitler?
Would you be interested in following the author on their official Twitter account to get exclusive access to truncated versions of their capital city touring schedule and absolutely nothing else?
Do you know Tom Keneally? Do you think he would blurb the book?
How do you format eBooks?