Book club questions

  1. Through an Icon’s Eyes has a very unusual character at its heart. Introduced as the half-painted icon of Mary Magdalene, was she a believable character and as a reader was it easy to suspend your disbelief?
  2. The title of the novel is ‘Through an Icon’s Eyes’ but the story is really presented through Benedict and Annie’s eyes. To what extent do you think this statement is true?
  3. The novel is narrated in two halves. Did your opinions of Benedict and Annie change as their stories were revealed, and if so in what way?
  4. Benedict and Laurence have an interesting relationship. How do you think the revelations of Laurence’s past affect the way in which Benedict sees his mentor?
  5. The author uses the narrative device of unfolding memories within the plot. Why do you feel she does this, and how effective is this as a means of story-telling?
  6. The mid-fifteenth century was a turbulent time politically and religiously? To what extent do you think it was necessary for the author to explain the detail of this background and did it help or hinder the plot?
  7. There were many female mystics at the time that the novel is set, given the magical realism of the book, did you feel that as a reader you were encouraged to believe that Annie was receiving visions, or were they simply a symptom of the abuse metered out to her by others and her own regime of self-punishment?
  8. The novel has three distinct locations: London, Florence and Greece. How did the sense of place enrich characters and plot?
  9. Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way?
  10. This is a novel with a ‘happy ending’. As a reader did you find the events that lead to the end of the story surprising and if so was the ‘tying up of loose ends’ satisfying?