Reader’s Guide for Queen’s Autumn Gambit

Queen’s Autumn Gambit Discussion Questions

  1. Should Carolyn be content with the stipulations of the inheritance (enjoy the money) or feel more conflicted about what she is sacrificing?  How or what do the other characters sacrifice?  Is Luca’s reaction to Carolyn realistic, or should he have accepted her right away in the beginning and shared “the prize”?
  2. There are many references to poetry, especially the use of elevated language, does the novel follow a traditional poetic license of creating an image with words but more is hidden within the stanzas?  There are other elements of poetry, especially the use of the convention of alliteration.  How are rhyme, extended metaphor, onomatopoeia, personification, and imagery utilized?
  3. Characters evolve and change throughout the novel.  What are some examples of characters who begin as one literature archetype but are really another?  (A listing of common archetypes:  Hero, Mother figure, Great Teacher, Innocent, Underdog, Double, Sacrificial Redeemer, Scapegoat, Temptress, Monster, Villain, Trickster, and Evil Figure)
  4. Games play an important role.  Each character is playing a game, but the setting of the scene and key parts of the novel illustrate how they are being “played”.  Cite some examples of pivotal scenes that illustrate when a game is in progress.
  5. Communication and letters are fundamental to the story.  The book is comprised of words, but often the words the characters say have other meanings or are misunderstood.  How does the lack of understanding aid or hinder their development?
  6. There are dual elements throughout the book.  Some characters act one way but feel another.  There are multiple religions represented.  What does each of these faiths bring to the story?
  7. Names have an important role, especially the multiple name of St. Mary.  Mary is a central figure in Catholicism, but she is also a mother.  What is the mother’s role, and how is it demonstrated by the various churches and other characters?  How does the familial role of sister interplay with either the characters or the inanimate objects in the book?
  8. Time is crucial, as the story has multiple year flashbacks.  The present is set in 2011, but even within the present, some characters remember a previous happening during the short time frame of autumn.  How is memory utilized?  Many of the characters want to forget their past, but they can’t erase their memories of it.  How is that helping or hindering them?
  9. Life and death are referred as circles.  The rebirth of the seasons is often given and illustrated with the progression of autumn.  Find places in the novel, where images of circles or other shapes have been used.  How have some characters shaped their lives?
  10. Numbers are cited throughout the book.  What are the major numbers and what do they show symbolically?  How are the numbers used during the climax and resolutions of the book?
  11. The game of chess and its structure are pivotal.  Each chapter heading has a title or reference to chess.  Can you find the answer within each chapter?  What are some of the other characters who are common pieces in the game of chess?
  12. The final question:  Is there ever a good reason to lie, or should you always tell the truth?