top of page
ICE Breakers



What aspects of O'Farrell's writing did you enjoy the most? Her characterisation or her story-telling?
Did your group enjoy the historical setting? Did they want more?
Given we have been experiencing our own 'plague' and invisible enemy - did you find this a comfortable read or were you able to admire the work for its relevance and the author's own love of Hamnet's story?
At the heart of this story is the loss of a beloved child? How did O'Farrell's interpretation of the isolation of grief make you feel?
How successfully do you think O'Farrell re-creates Agnes, this little known character from history?
Why do you think O'Farrell never uses Shakespeare's name?
Did it make you think differently about Shakespeare's play 'Hamlet', Twelfth Night' and his other known later work such as 'The Tempest'?
How do you think Agnes going to London to see her husband's new play called Hamlet changes their relationship?
How does it make you feel to think that over 400 years later we find ourselves suffering our own pandemic?



Why do you think this novel was such a scandal when it was first published in 1847?
Who was destined to be a better match for Jane – St John Rivers or Rochester?
A memorable line for Brontë scholars - “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!”
Do you think Jane makes a strong modern day heroine and what other contemporary heroines or novels does Jane Eyre remind you of? (Greta Thunberg, Eleanor Oliphant)?
Does your opinion of Jane change as she grows up in the novel? If so when and why?
Did Brontë want her novel to be instructive or was she challenging the Victorian form of literature?


How easy was this book to read and were you surprised by the direction of the plot?
If you have read others in the quartet, how does it compare? Did it feel darker? Was this the 'spring' you expected, how was this conveyed?
What did you feel Ali Smith was trying to challenge? Did her narrative spark a conversation?
Do you know anyone who reminds you of Florence?
What passages and text struck you the most?
Was this a marmite read in your group?
Are you now keen to read 'Summer' or others in the quartet? Which is your favourite and why?


bottom of page