Discussion questions

  1. How do the various members of Margery’s family --- her father, her mother, her aunts, Barbara --- inform who she is as a person? What values and beliefs, good and bad, do they pass along to her?
  2. How do Margery’s core beliefs --- about herself, about the world --- change throughout the novel?
  3. When Margery stole the boots, what was your initial reaction? What do you think the boots represent to her?
  4. How does Margery and Enid’s relationship evolve? How do they complement each other as characters? How do they learn from and change each other?
  5. Why do you think Mr. Mundic fixated on Margery to the point that he followed her to New Caledonia? What does the journey mean to him? What similarities, if any, do Margery and Mundic share?
  6. How did you envision Margery’s helmet? It has its own presence in most scenes of the book. What does it represent to you?
  7. What characters did you find yourself identifying with most? Do you think your personality is more aligned with Margery’s or Enid’s? Which would you want as a friend?
  8. Do you think Freya will actually go to New Caledonia? What about Margery and Gloria’s story do you think inspired her?
  9. What does the golden beetle mean to Margery? Do you have a “golden beetle” in your own life? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
  10. What did you think was going to be in the red valise? Were you surprised when it was finally opened?