> Skip to content

Book clubs  •  25 August 2016


Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil book club notes

Melina Marchetta’s Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil – a memorable book club choice.

Full of unforgettable characters, social insight and wry wit, Melina Marchetta’s Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is a novel about human identity, lost children and the nature of real love. All perfect fodder for an inspired book club meet-up. Here are some questions to get your next reading group discussion buzzing.

Reading Group Questions

  • There are many very strong characters in this novel, especially women: people who have lost a great deal but still manage to live with dignity. Who in your opinion has lost the most? Noor? Anna Conlon? Saffron? Violette? Bee? Bish? Someone else?
  • For a number of these characters, the lingering effects of the past are a more powerful influence on their lives than the present is. Discuss the ways in which each of them has come to terms with their past.
  • Bish is an unlikely hero, but in the end that’s perhaps what he is. What do you make of him in this regard, and also as a man, a father, a husband, an ex-husband?
  • Charlie Crombie is another complex character: what’s your opinion of him ultimately?
  • Would you agree that Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil highlights important social issues in a subtle way, without telling readers how to think? Discuss those issues raised in the novel.
  • Consider the way in which the novel looks at assumptions made about people, according to their race, gender, age, culture, social position. And the minor details that are blown out of proportion so as to confirm Noor’s guilt in the eyes of the public.
  • Discuss the two key bus scenes that frame the novel: the one that is bombed at the beginning, and the one that acts as a means of deliverance at the end.
  • The bombing incident inevitably begs comparison with recent events in Europe: how convincing did you find it?
  • Social media has both a good role and bad role to play in the events of Tell the Truth – discuss these.
  • Do you find the actions of the mainstream media in the novel true to life?
  • The abandoned or lost child is a strong theme in Tell the Truth, as is the fracturing of families. Discuss how these are manifested.
  • Tell the Truth also plays with the idea of people having to pay for the sins of their parents. To what extent do you think our views about this have changed over the decades?
  • Discuss the scene in which Bee tricks her father into driving Violette across the Channel (chapter 5). Were you aware of something else going on here while reading?
  • Consider the way in which the full reason behind Bish’s feeling of guilt about his son’s death is withheld: did you find that this rendered his character and motivation for acting stronger in retrospect?

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta's gripping new novel Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is a cracking fusion of suspense and heart-rending drama.

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
Book clubs
Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone book club notes

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is a fiendishly clever mystery that will keep your book club guessing and introduces a family of characters brilliant for discussion.

Book clubs
The Last Station book club notes

An unputdownable Australian novel to read with your book club.

Book clubs
The Herd book club notes

A standout book club novel. Unputdownable and thought-provoking.

Book clubs
The Frog Prince book club conversation starters

James Norcliffe shares discussion points and questions for his new book The Frog Prince in this book club guide.

Book clubs
The Spy's Wife book club notes

Much loved author Fiona McIntosh is back with an historical adventure to enjoy with your book club.

Book clubs
The Paper Palace book club notes

A magnificent literary pick for book club.

Book clubs
A Slow Fire Burning book club notes

An exciting new thriller from the author of The Girl on the Train to discuss with your book club.

Book clubs
Mirror Man book club notes

Ponder whether one life is worth more than another with Fiona McIntosh's latest thriller.

Book clubs
The Deep book club notes

This heart-stopping thriller set on the rugged coast of Tasmania is an excellent choice for book club.

Book clubs
The Chase book club notes

Track down your reading group to discuss Candice Fox's latest thriller.

Book clubs
Everything Changes book club conversation starters

Stephanie Johnson shares discussion points and questions for her new book Everything Changes in this book club guide.

Book clubs
Fragile Monsters book club notes

Sweep your book club off to Malaysia with this spellbinding novel of war and family betrayal.

Looking for more book club notes?

See all book club notes