This reading group guide for The Counterfeit Guest includes discussion questions and a Q&A with author Rose Melikan. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Questions for Discussion
1. Discuss the development of Mary Finch’s character. Have wealth and social status changed her? Do you agree with Mary’s self-assessment that she has become “concerned only with satisfying her own vanity”? If not, provide evidence to the contrary.
2. Explain Captain Holland’s reluctance to pursue a romantic relationship with Mary. Do you believe his fears are justified? How does Mary attempt to reassure him? Do you think she is successful? Why or why not?
3. What are the central elements of the plot regarding the military installations at Spithead, the Nore, London, and Woolwich? What roles do Crosby-Nash, Rabelais, Major Whittington, and Phoebus play with regard to mutinies at these locations, and why do their plans succeed or fail?
4. Compare Major Whittington’s way of thinking about his duties with Captain Holland’s. What insights do you gain about their characters and motivation? Do you believe that each could stand to learn from the other’s approach? Why or why not?