Emma Darwin
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For Reading Groups

   A Secret Alchemy
I love reading groups, both as a writer and as a reader, so here are a few suggestions to get the discussion going:

  1. Pilgrimage is a key idea in A Secret Alchemy. How is this reflected in the story of each of the main characters, and in the shape and texture of the novel as a whole?
  2. Does A Secret Alchemy challenge or contradict your idea of the history in which it’s rooted? If so, in what ways?
  3. ‘I loved you because you were the nearest thing I ever had to a son.’ Discuss the role of uncles and surrogate fathers within A Secret Alchemy.
  4. Discuss the ideas of storytelling, myth, fact and fiction in A Secret Alchemy.
  5. What do you think of Una’s realisation that there’s only one way to get at the real, human truth of Elizabeth and Anthony?
  6. How does the myth of Jason work within the story?
  7. Marriage – secret, alchemical, political – and other sexual partnerships are central to A Secret Alchemy. Discuss the ways in which such partnerships are portrayed.
  8. What did you think of the ending? Would you have liked it to end differently?
  9. What other books would you compare this to? What books would you recommend to other readers who have enjoyed this book?
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