Book Club Discussion Questions for A Girl Like You
- A Girl Like You at times displays certain features of traditional fairy/folk literature. For example, Henrietta is presented as a very pure, somewhat innocent young woman who, despite her extreme beauty and the seedy situations she finds herself in, remains untouched by them. Do you find this believable? And, if so, is it a reflection of a bygone era? Would that happen today?
- Also in fairy/folk tradition, Henrietta, as the heroine, has a string of protectors who help her along the way, such as Mr. Hennessey, Stan, Lucy and the gang, and Clive. Who is her greatest protector and why?
- Is Clive really her protector, or someone she needs to be protected from? Do you sympathize with him or do you feel he is taking advantage of Henrietta?
- Ironically, despite all of the seedy situations Henrietta finds herself in, including posing as a prostitute, the real test of her virtue occurs in the last scene with Clive. Discuss how you felt about her reaction to Clive’s attempts to seduce her. Do you think his attempt was believable/understandable or was it out of character?
- Stan is obsessed with Henrietta to the point of putting her in danger, but he eventually shifts his affections to Elsie. Do you think he really has? Is this believable?
- We are told that Henrietta’s father kills himself because he lost his job due to the Great Depression, but Henrietta half believes his suicide may partly be her mother’s fault. What do you think? Is Les Von Harmon a sympathetic character or a weak one? Or both?
- Discuss Mr. Hennessy’s role as a surrogate father.
- Were you surprised that Clive was previously married and that “Katie” was his dog?
- Were you surprised that Larry was really the infamous Neptune? Did you pity him at any point in the story?
- Do you think Henrietta really wants to be married, given that she doesn’t want to become her mother, “trapped in a little apartment with eight kids to take care of”? Do you think she really loves Clive, or is she merely trying to escape her situation and help her family?
- Discuss the significance of the title, “A Girl Like You.” How does it apply to Henrietta’s view of herself? Of Clive’s view of her? Of Ma’s view of her? Or even Stan’s view of Elsie?
- What genre do you think this book falls into? Historical fiction? Romance? Mystery? Romantic Suspense? Or something else altogether?
At the St. Sylvester carnival, Elsie and Stan briefly discuss Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. This sets the stage for the next scene in which Henrietta meets up with the fugitive Polly in the church graveyard, which is meant to be a nod to the opening chapter of Great Expectations. What are some “expectations,” warnings and foreshadowings that come from Henrietta and Polly’s discussion there?