Book Club questions: The Faithful by Juliet West
From the beaches of Sussex to the battlefields of civil war Spain the new novel by Juliet West is a rich and gripping tale of love, deception and desire- a great summer read for your book club. If you're reading The Faithful in your book club, here are some questions to help you discuss the themes in the book.
1. Why do you think Hazel was drawn to Tom, and Tom to Hazel?
2. ‘Political cranks,’ Francine had said, hurrying past with a look of distaste. ‘Don’t flatter them with your attention.’ What do you think initially attracted Hazel to the blackshirts?
3. Francine and Bea are two women with very different attitudes towards motherhood. Which family would you rather have grown up in? Who was the ‘best’ mother?
4. Blackshirt seaside camps were held regularly on the south coast during the 1930s. Do you feel this real-life setting worked well as a backdrop for the novel?
5. Did your attitude towards Hazel change after she joined the blackshirts?
6. Charles is based on a real-life character. Do you feel that Charles’s line of work was immoral, or was he simply offering a service?
7. Was Hazel right to keep her secrets from Tom for such a long time?
8. Were you surprised to learn that women, including former suffragettes, supported British fascism in the 1930s? What do you think motivated ‘ordinary’ women like Bea to join?
9. ‘I’ve been useful, that’s all.’ Was Lucia right to accuse Hazel of using her? How do you view their relationship?
10. Discuss the ending of the novel.
July 1935. In the village of Aldwick on the Sussex coast, sixteen-year-old Hazel faces a long, dull summer with just her self-centred mother Francine for company. But then Oswald Mosley's blackshirts arrive in Aldwick, and Hazel's summer suddenly becomes more interesting. She finds herself befriended by two very different people: Lucia, an upper-class blackshirt, and Tom, a young working-class boy, increasingly scornful of Mosley's rhetoric. In the end, though, it is Tom who wins Hazel's heart - and Hazel who breaks his.
Autumn 1936. Now living in London, Hazel has grown up fast over the past year. But an encounter with Tom sends her into freefall. He must never know why she cut off all contact last summer, betraying the promises they’d made. Yet Hazel isn't the only one with secrets. Nor is she the only one with reason to keep the two of them apart . . .