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Book clubs  •  7 May 2019


Pearly Gates - book club guide

NZ author and poet Owen Marshall shares with us some questions to get the ball rolling in a book club discussion for his latest Novel, Pearly Gates.

Character study is central to most of my prose writing and `Pearly Gates' is no exception.  I wanted to show a capable and basically decent chap who is led astray by vanity and self-importance to do things that he comes to regret.  Very few people are either completely good, or completely bad, and the complexity and contradictory elements of personality are evident in most of us.  I also wanted to depict the nature of Kiwi southern provincial life, which is the context for Pearly's actions.

Questions for your book club to consider:

1. To what extent is Pearly typical of New Zealand men of his generation and experience?

2. What are his best qualities and what are his worst?

3. What are Pearly’s deficiencies in his attitude to, and treatment of, women?

4. After his experiences recounted in the novel, will Pearly learn and change, or is he too set in his ways?

5. How accurate do you consider the depiction of provincial life?

6. In your opinion is the dialogue faithfully representative of that you would expect from such characters?

7. To what extent is Pearly influenced by his farming background?


Pearly Gates Owen Marshall

Comeuppance comes from unexpected directions.

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