Before we post our first chat, here are some questions to get you thinking about Miss Timmins’ School for Girls, our next book club pick.
Before we post our first chat—next week we discuss the first part, pages 1 to 161, if you’re reading along—here are some questions to consider while you read. Don’t worry, there aren’t any spoilers, but we do think these questions will pique your interest!
1. In Miss Timmins’ School for Girls, young Charu, fresh from a conventional Brahmin upbringing, is suddenly exposed to Christian British-run boarding school, as well as to the iconoclastic hippie culture of the 1970s. “I watched my worlds collide,” says Charu, “not in fire and brimstone as I had feared, but in comic relief.” Do you think this is true of the book? What are the main cultural conflicts our heroine faces? Are they all resolved through humor?
2. The British Missionaries are in this remote corner of India to spread Christianity. What else do they spread as evidenced by the daily life in the school?
3. In spite of her erratic behavior and dark past, do you think Moira Prince is presented as a sympathetic character? How does the author do this?
4. Charu has a disfiguring mark on her face. This has made her into an intense, sensitive and secretive person, a watcher. How do you think this influences her actions, and ultimately, the resolution of the murder mystery?
5. The soundtrack of this book is rock ‘n’ roll: The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and Jethro Tull. In your opinion, does this make the foreign landscape and culture more familiar to you? Does it resonate with a coming of age in America in the seventies?
6. One part of the book is narrated by Nandita, a 15-year-old school girl. Does Nandita’s vision change your opinion of Charu? If so, how?
7. Nandita and Charu, the two main narrators of the book, are very different personalities. In the end, who do you think proves to be the stronger, more heroic person, Charu or Nandita?
8. The principal of Miss Timmins’, Miss Shirley Nelson, puts her reputation in the school above the life of her own daughter. What is it about the relationship between them that makes this believable?
Adapted and reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Canada.