Book Club Discussion Questions for A Promise Given

1.  Do you think Oldrich Exley is too harsh in his decision to send the Von Harmon children to boarding school, or is he justified, considering Ma’s mental state?

2.  Do you believe Ma’s story about Les Von Harmon’s abuse of her, or do you think it is something she imagined or exaggerated?

3.  Do you find Henrietta’s hesitation and fears about her wedding night with Clive to be believable, especially considering her long string of jobs in seedy places?

4.  Wallace and Clive find themselves in similar positions in terms of wealth and the burden of running a huge estate. Discuss their similarities and differences in their attitudes and response to their situation.

5.  Discuss the significance of the title of the book and the many promises given throughout.

6.  This book is all about marriages: Clive and Henrietta, Captain Foley and Rosalyn, Wallace and Amelie, Elsie and Harrison, Lucy and Gwen and perhaps even Rose and Stanley. Discuss the differences and similarities in each of these relationships.  How is marriage the same or different today?

7.  Were you upset by Stanley’s apparent abandonment of Elsie or was it understandable/forgivable?

8.  Henrietta blames herself for the bad things that befall Elsie. Is her guilt justified?

9.  As you read the story, who did you think murdered Ernest Jacobs? Did you believe it was Wallace?

10.  Were you surprised to find that Wallace was married?

11.  This book also has a lot of father/son and mother/daughter themes. Discuss.

12.  What do you think Clive will do upon his return to Highbury? Do you think he will pursue detective work or not?