1. The attempt to achieve perfection is central to both Diana’s and Byron’s behavior. Has the novel changed your perception of what it may mean to be ‘perfect’?
2. Rachel Joyce portrays time as a slippery and unpredictable concept. Has this affected your attitude towards the ways in which we measure the paths of our lives?
3. Responsibility is a theme that plays a key part in the novel. Who do you believe holds the greatest responsibility for the accident?
4. Is Jim’s mental illness the inevitable result of the events of his childhood?
5. Diana says, ‘I’m beginning to think chaos is underrated.’ Do you agree?
6. Byron identifies the moment at which he no longer considers himself to be a child. How does the novel question traditional definitions of childhood and parenthood?
7. Rachel Joyce writes beautiful descriptions of Cranham Moor and the English landscape. What is the significance of the natural world in the novel?
8. What is the significance of class in the relationship between Beverley and Diana?
9. Several characters struggle with depression and obsessive-compulsive behavior in the novel. How effectively do you feel mental disorders are portrayed?
10. Diana believes that the course of her life is determined by destiny. What part does spiritual belief play in the novel, and do you agree that our actions cannot influence our own fates?
11. Seymour and Andrea Lowe express strong views about feminism. How does Rachel Joyce represent the role of women in the novel?
12. How does Rachel Joyce represent the different time periods of the novel? Are there echoes from 1972 in the present or is it a world and time that has disappeared without trace?
13. Diana is lonely despite having a family and friends; Jim experiences intense loneliness. What do you think makes people feel connected to each other, and what creates fulfilling relationships?
14. Byron and James Lowe are best friends as boys, and the employees at Mr Meade’s café form bonds of kinship. How does Rachel Joyce represent friendship, and what do you think it means to be a true friend?
15. Who is the most powerful character in the novel, and why?
16. Eileen and Jim are damaged, in different ways, by their pasts. To what extent do you feel their private pain is transformed through the act of sharing?