FAMILY SKELETON by CARMEL BIRD
NOTES FOR READERS
One The skeleton in the closet speaks directly to the reader, commenting on the behaviour of the characters, and also telling the reader where to look, what to bother about. What effect does this narrative device have on the telling of the story?
Two Margaret’s life story is mostly revealed in her journal. Does this intimate view of Margaret help you to understand her, even to empathise with her?
Three Lillian is a bit different from the other characters in many ways. She is the central location of goodness in a messy, wicked world. In what ways is she different?
Four The Second World War fractured the twentieth century. How did it affect Margaret? How did it reach into the lives of the O’Days of Toorak?
Five Doria is ‘the stranger who rides into town’. What effect did she have on the lives of the other characters?
Six Margaret thinks the past should remain in the past. Most of the other characters seem to want to explore and expose the past. Who is right?
Seven The subject matter of the novel is dramatic and serious, yet much of the style of the writing is comic. How do you think these two elements work together? Does the comedy make the drama more memorable?
Eight The chapters are headed by a short quotation form Margaret’s late husband Edmund. What effect do these sayings have on your reading of the novel?
Nine The novel ends in such a way that the reader is invited to complete the picture. Did you enjoy this freedom for the reader’s imagination?
Ten What does the skeleton want the reader to notice in the advertisement on page six?
Eleven Without the presence of Doria, would the secret have been buried forever?
Twelve The skeleton says to take no notice of such things as the butterflies. What game is the skeleton playing?