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© 2020 Alice Feeney

Reading Group Questions

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  1. ‘Sometimes I lie.’ Amber lies to so many people throughout the novel – her husband, her sister, her colleagues, even herself. Do you think she always knew when she was lying? Don’t we all tell lies from time to time? 

  2. ‘It took a lot of love to hate her the way I do.’ Amber spent over 20 years believing that Claire was keeping her safe, but does she love her? In Claire's mind, the way she isolates and controls Amber is love, she genuinely thinks she is protecting her. But is it love or fear that destroys their relationship in the end?

  3. Who is the real villain of this story? Madeline? Edward? Claire? Or Amber?

  4. ‘I stand in front of the large range oven with my arms bent at the elbows. My fingers form the familiar shape: the index and middle finger finding the thumb on each hand. I whisper quietly to myself, whilst visually checking that everything is switched off, my fingernails clicking together. I do it again. I do it a third time.’ Amber’s OCD started after the fire in 1992. What other displays of OCD can you remember from the novel? How successful is Amber at hiding them?

  5. What was your favourite twist in the novel?

  6. ‘People say there’s nothing like a mother’s love, take that away and you’ll find there is nothing like a daughter’s hate.’ How much are the parents of both girls to blame for who their daughters grew up to become? 

  7. The colour red is mentioned over sixty times in the novel, (stolen red pens, red studio lights, red toothbrush, lipstick, traffic lights, wine, blood and the robin’s red breast are just some examples). What other themes did you spot?

  8. ‘For today’s phone-in, we’re inviting you to get in touch on the subject of imaginary friends . . .’ Were you surprised to discover that Jo was an imaginary friend? When Jo leaves the hospital shortly before Amber wakes up, we never see her again. Why was Amber finally able to let her go at this point in her life?  

  9. ‘I can do ‘Amber the friend,’ or ‘Amber the wife,’ but right now it’s time for ‘Amber from Coffee Morning.’’ Don’t we all play different roles in life? Do you behave differently with your family/friends/colleagues? Or are you always yourself?

  10. ‘His success broke him and his failure broke us.’ Paul and Amber’s marriage is in trouble at the start of the novel – his struggles with his writing, her losing her TV reporter job, their inability to have a child all seem to play a part. Why are they happier at the end? What ‘fixes’ them?

  11. Did you enjoy the nursery rhymes in the book?

  12. ‘I hate hospitals. They are the home of death and regrets that missed their slots.’ What regrets do you think Amber is referring to when she says this? Do you think any other characters in the novel have regrets?

  13. Let’s talk about that ending!

 

SOMETIMES I LIE Reading Group Questions

(contains spoilers!)

I KNOW WHO YOU ARE

Reading Group Questions (contains spoilers!)

  1. “Not everybody wants to be somebody, some people just want to be someone else.” Aimee confesses to being shy, so why has she chosen to live a life in the spotlight?

  2. Did you enjoy the style of writing? Do you have any favourite quotes from the book?

  3. Did you believe that Aimee didn’t know what had happened to her husband at the start of the novel, when Ben’s things were missing from the house?

  4. “I do what Maggie tells me to do, because I’ve learned that bad things happen to me when I don’t.” Aimee loved Maggie by the end of the childhood chapters, despite the bad things. Why do you think that was? Do you think she was happy living with Maggie and John?

  5. Which parts of the novel shocked you the most? The childhood chapters or Aimee’s story in the present? Did you enjoy the different timelines?

  6. What was your favourite twist in the novel?

  7. If you were one of the characters in this book, with whom would you most relate and why?

  8. There were several Eighties references in the childhood chapters: Rainbow Bright, She-Ra, Story Teller Magazine, Fisher Price toys, Speak and Spell, The Never Ending Story, Cagney & Lacey, penny sweets. Did you spot any others, and did they bring back any memories of your own?

  9. Who is the real villain of this story? Maggie? John? Ben? Jack? Alicia? Jennifer Jones? Or Aimee herself?

  10. We learn that Aimee had a very difficult childhood. Does it make you understand her and forgive the behaviour of the woman she has become?

  11. Many of the characters in the novel were pretending to be someone or something they were not. Isn’t that something we are all guilty of sometimes?

  12. How does this novel compare to others you have read in the genre? Have you read Alice Feeney’s previous novel, Sometimes I Lie? If so, which of her books did you enjoy most and why?

  13. Do you think that Aimee really did know the true identity of her husband all along?

HIS & HERS

Reading Group Questions 

(contains spoilers!)

 

  1. “Sometimes I think I am the unreliable narrator of my own life. Sometimes I think we all are.” It’s hard to know who to trust in this novel. Who did you most want to believe? Anna or Jack?

  2. What was your favourite twist in the book?

  3. “In the future, I expect people will long for fifteen minutes of privacy, rather than fifteen minutes of fame.” Given that Anna is such a private person, why do you think she pursued a career as a TV journalist? Was it to please her mother on some level? (Who named her after the newsreader Anna Ford).

  4. “Home is not always where the heart is. For people like me, home is where the hurt lives that made us into who we are.” The quintessential English village of Blackdown is a fictional setting, but places like it do exist. What makes some people desperate to escape tight-knit communities, while others never want to leave?     

  5. “Popularity can spoil a place just like it can spoil a person.” What do you think the killer meant by that?

  6. “Wine is always the most reliable crutch when it feels like I might fall.” Several characters in the book could be described as functioning alcoholics. Attitudes to smoking have dramatically changed in recent years, is alcohol simply Anna’s generation’s drug of choice?

  7. “Funny how often life seems to work in reverse. We were children masquerading as adults and now we are adults acting like children.” The changing roles we play in life, family and work feature several times in the book. Why did it take Anna so long to start looking after her mother?

  8. “It might be true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but sometimes the apple can roll down a hill, far, far away from where it landed.” How much do Anna and her mother really have in common?  

  9. “Youth fools us into thinking there are infinite paths to choose from in life; maturity tricks us into thinking there is only one.” Age discrimination is an interesting topic in this novel. Is society too quick to judge the elderly?  

  10. “Worry makes her world go round.” Several of the characters suffer from one or more forms of anxiety. Did that hinder them? Or, did it somehow make them more determined to achieve their goals?  

  11. “Memories are shapeshifters. Some bend, some twist, and some shrivel and die over time.” Sometimes Anna’s and Jack's memories don't quite match. Do two people ever really remember things the exact same way?

  12. “The sting of loneliness is only ever temporary, like that of a nettle. If you don’t scratch at the solitude, it starts to feel normal again soon enough.” Loneliness is such a big theme in this book, and affects almost every character on some level, regardless of their age. Is life more or less lonely than it used to be in 2020?

  13. “People rarely see themselves the way others do; we all carry broken mirrors.” Is anyone who they first seem to be in this novel?