Some people like to read the text and nothing but the text. while others like to take some time out to look at context, discuss ideas. With the latter in mind I’ve drawn up the following questions and provocative statements for you to think about, either when reading alone or discussing at book groups. Please note too that I positively welcome questions relating to any aspect of the novel. Writing it has been a privilege and a delight which I am happy to share with any reader who wants to know more about it.
- Is Wally Neuzil a likeable heroine? Why? Why not?
- Why does Wally feel more betrayed by Emilie Flöge than by Gustav Klimt?
- How does Klimt’s treatment of Emilie differ from his treatment of Consuela? Why do you think there is a difference?
- Why do you think Wally was prepared to go so far for Egon? What did she hope to gain?
- Egon Schiele. Scourge of the bourgeoisie or hypocrite who, once successful, can’t wait to be accepted?
- Does Egon love Wally?
- Does Wally love Egon?
- Roessler changes in his attitude to Wally. How? And why?
- What’s so special about the Harms sisters?
IDEAS and THEMES
- ‘Women are matter without a soul. They need men to complete them.’ How far do you think this was true in turn-of-the-century Vienna, based on your reading of The Artist’s Muse?
- ‘It is the role of art and the right of the artist to push boundaries.’ Is this always true?
- ‘Women always stick together.’ Discuss.
- ‘Class divides more than gender.’ Discuss.
- ‘The First World War helped liberate women.’ Discuss.
- ‘The only true form of love is platonic.’ Is this true? How is this manifest in novel.
- How are women artists represented in the novel? Are there any?
- Is it possible to love the art but not the man/woman?
- ‘People in authority are more accountable for their crimes today.’ Discuss.
- Why did the writer use the first person narrative? Did it work for you?
- Wally speaks in the present tense. Why do you think she does this?
- The Artist’s Muse has a happy ending of sorts. Why do you think that the writer chose to end the novel when she did?
- ‘It’s important for this story to have a happy ending.’ Discuss. Why? Why not?
- The writer uses paintings to help structure the story. How and why has she done this?
- Has the writer left in too many artistic details?
- Does the love story detract from the issues in the novel?
Any more discussion points that you come up with, please send them in. I will add them to the list.
I hope you have a good discussion!