Book Club discussion questions

Book Club questions to aid discussion



Still Life by Sarah Winman. Book discussion questions from Gloucester Book Club

What did you readers discover in reading Still Life?

Laughter. Joy. A moment of lightness and belief in the world again after the ravages of the last year? Is the book like a re-charging of the batteries?

1. There are so many wonderful characters in Still Life - Ulysses, Evelyn, Cressy, Kid, Peg, Col, and Claude, the Parrot - did you have a favourite and why?

2. The novel spans 3 decades. Did you like the way it moved through those 30 years?

3. Many people find art intimidating, or have trouble finding the words to talk about why it moves them, but there’s none of that hesitation in Still Life.
Does the writing about art enrich the novel for you or is it a complete turn off?

4. What did you learn from reading the novel that you didn’t know already?

5. It’s no coincidence that Ulysses earns a living making globes — delicate, hand-painted models of a planet recently blown apart and reassembled by war. Is that essentially what he and his friends are doing, too: remaking the world as best they can with the bits of paint and paste they can scrape together? The old borders that once outlined what a family is have been burned away; the standard of respectability has been knocked off its axis.

6. Sarah Winman is a trained actor. Do you feel that might have influenced her writing particularly in the characterisation? Is there a certain theatricality to the book?

‘How I immerse myself in characterisation clearly comes from my acting days. I also went to the theatre a lot when I was writing Still Life and wanted to include a certain theatricality to the book.’

7. Would you have liked to be friends with this group and hung out with them?

8. Winman describes the landscapes, architecture and art works, and it begins to feel like more of a sensory experience than a purely literary one. And the food! Do you agree?

9. The link to EM Forster and Room with a View. Did you find this a necessary inclusion?

10. Questions left unanswered! Ulysses and Darnley - was there a possibility of a relationship between them if Darnley had survived? Why has Ulysses never formed a serious romantic relationship after divorcing Peg?