1. When Berrie’s letters are discovered by Rebecca and Quentin, Rebecca is more excited about the content than Quentin, whose relatives the letters would reveal. He said he wasn’t as interested in history as Rebecca was. How do you think you would react to finding letters from a long-ago relative? Excited about the history, or only mildly interested, thinking like Quentin that such letters would have little impact on your life today?
2. The Victorian era is full of stories of philanthropic heroes. Beryl Hamilton, if she had really lived, would have been one. Do you think society has changed about how we go about doing good works? Are people more likely to give money than time, not both as Berrie did? What kind of philanthropic work would you do, if you had the time and the money to benefit a cause?
3. Lady Elise, Quentin’s aristocratic mother, is perceived in the beginning to be cold, snobbish, easily dismissive of “servants” like Rebecca. Did her revelation at the end of the book, that she is sad to see the passing of uniqueness, of the aristocracy, change your opinion of her? Did you like her any better by the end of the book than you did at the beginning? Understand her enough to change your opinion of her?
4. When Simon first arrives at Escott Manor School for the Infirm, he is aghast. If you were in his position, what do you think would have shocked you most about that scene? Hearing his sister shriek? The noise in the dining room? The smell emitted from one of the students? How would you have reacted if you were Simon, having found your sister Katie at last?
5. Mr. Truebody is a stickler who thinks himself more important than he really is. Have you ever known someone like him? Worked for someone like him? What is the most effective tactic you’ve learned when dealing with someone like him?
6. Quentin accuses Rebecca of being an intellectual snob, but by the end of the story he confesses he held her on too high a pedestal. Do you think Rebecca was an intellectual snob?
7. Rebecca has hidden away newspaper clippings of Quentin in the bottom drawer of her desk, under the guise of being a “family recorder” as the curator of their family’s historical home. If anyone other than herself knew about the stash of clippings, do you think they would have believed her claim to have collected them only as a recorder, or do you think they would have seen through that to the crush she’s had on Quentin all these years?