ICE Breakers


Why do you think Hana devotes herself to look after the Englishman?

Why is the Englishman drawn to the desert and its landscape?

Hana adores the Englishman.  Do you think the Englishman is a likeable individual and would you trust him?

Do you find Kip’s loyalty to the British cause credible?

Do you think all four characters are misfits or victims/survivors of war?

Katherine’s death is tragic – how do you think her death affects The Englishman?

Do you think the simplicity of their lives in San Girolamo Villa enhances their story?

This book was awarded 2018 Golden Booker – do you agree it is a worthy winner?



How many of the family dynamics rang true to you?

Could you relate to the strain in Andrew and Emma's relationship?

Could you understand how easy it is to maintain a wall of silence of suffering and acceptance over a period of time? 

Every character has their individual secret  - do you think a forced period of confinement would always uncover the truth?

Did you find this a heartwarming story?

Do you think it important to have read Autumn? How are they similar?

What was the purpose of the surreal disembodied head in the first chapter and how does this evolve in the novel? 

Did you enjoy Ali’s Smith’s literary references to A Christmas Carol and Cymberline?

Did your group feel this was a political novel and did Ali Smith succeed in convincing you about her point of view?  

Dreams are a recurring motif in the novel along with  - what do you think Ali Smith was trying to achieve? 

What do you think is in store for Spring? 



Throughout the story, Mary Mackenzie remains positive and has an amazing ability to survive – how do you think she is able to do this and did you find her likeable?  Do you think Mary is a strong character?

Could you relate to the depths Mary’s friends and relatives outcast her from their community and took everything away from her?

Could you feel any empathy for Count Kurihama?

Did the book enlighten you about the wars from Japan’s point of view and the 1923 Tokyo earthquake?

How did you find the style of writing as diary entries?

How far were you moved by the story’s ending?





Do feel it is important to be catholic or religious to empathise with Cyril’s mother? How did it resonate in your group and what stories did it ignite?

The book has been described as ‘the story of Ireland’. Do you think this it Boyne’s objective?  

What other themes struck you? Is this Boyne’s story? 

Did you enjoy his writing style and what other authors does it remind you of?  Have you read any other novels by Boyne such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Can you see book hitting the big screen and would you go and see it?  



Were you astonished at the maturity of Sal?

Did you find the story believable?

How do you think the book being written in the first-person narrator added to the story?

The language is real and visceral – did you find this a refreshing change?

How do you think society lets down children such as Sal and Peppa? 

Mick Kitson was a teacher for many years.  Do you think he is trying to make us aware of the shortcomings of society in allowing vulnerable children to go unchecked?



Do you think Roy and Celestial’s marriage would have survived if he hadn’t gone to prison?

Do you think it is inevitable that someone as young as Celestial would find it hard to wait and stay faithful, or do you think the fact she couldn’t shows their relationship was not strong enough to begin with?

If the roles were reversed, and Celestial had been the one in prison, do you think Roy would have waited for her?

Do you think this miscarriage of justice against African-Americans is prevalent in modern day America?

We are not given any information about the woman Roy is accused of raping.  What impact does this give to the story and what kind of woman do you imagine she is?



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