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ICE Breakers



What was your first impression of Kitty Fane and at what point, if any, did you feel compassion for her situation?

What were Kitty’s fatal mistakes? How much is her mother to blame?

How important is the matriarch in this novel? 

Were any of the men attractive characters?

The ‘painted veil’ is a strong metaphor in the novel? What did Maugham want us to think about?  Who was and wasn’t tainted? 

Do we really think Kitty would have a better life in the Bahamas? 

How relevant is this story for today? What do we aspire for our next generation?  And would it be different from Maugham's. 



Do you think Roy and Celestial’s marriage can survive this injustice?

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?



Orr focuses on the fact that her mother was a narcissist.  Do you agree that narcissists can have such debilitating effects on the person they love and are trying to control?

How much do you think the political background of the steel industry had a strong influence on John and Win’s ethics which they instilled in their children?

Do you think Orr found writing this memoir a cathartic process?

Do you think we all fear turning into our mothers, even when we try not to?

Do you think Win was secretly proud of what her daughter had achieved?

Do you wish Orr had developed the relationship she had with her brother more fully in this memoir?

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