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SANDMAN Reading Group's Guide

This guide is for the use of Reading Groups and Clubs who who would like to study and discuss aspects of the novel 'Sandman' after everyone has read it. It is suggested that the leader copies these notes and ticks those items to be discussed, crosses those items NOT to be discussed, and places a question mark against those items only to be discussed if there is sufficient time. Place these marks in the left-margin against each item, for clarity.

Questions for general discussion

  1. What is the central message of Sandman?

  2. Do you think Sasha Vincent was involved in any other 'hanky-panky' (eg with Glenn Mason)?

  3. Was Paul Vincent a good husband and father? Should he have behaved differently? If so, how?

  4. Was Paul justified in getting romantically involved with Carol Davis?

  5. Was Leah wrong to send the anonymous letter to the police at the time she sent it?

  6. Discuss Stevie Clarke and his characterisation. Did your perception of him change over the duration of the book? Is there a moral in this?

  7. How did Paul Vincent change over the duration of the book?

  8. How did Leah change over the duration of the book?

  9. Did you get a strong sense on place in this novel? Was the level of description too little, just right, or too much?

  10. Would you recommend this novel to friends and colleagues?

  11. Did you get a good picture of the various characters? How good was the characterisation in general?

  12. Do you consider any of the characters to be superfluous, or are they all justified as contributing to the storyline? For example, in what way did the decorator, Charlie, contribute?

  13. What was the main purpose of including Hilda Redland in the story?

  14. After reading Norm Goldman's interview with Ian Kingsley (on this website), does the knowledge you gain of the author throw any light on the approach he used when writing 'Sandman'? Can you think of specific examples of how the writing achieves his aims?

  15. How important is Leah to the story?

  16. When did you first know or suspect who the real murderer was? Who did you suspect for most of the time, and why? Who else did you suspect, and why?

Questions for in-depth discussion

A. Overall

A-1 What did you like most about the book?

A-2 Did you dislike anything about the book?

A-3 Would you recommend this author and would you read him again?

A-4 Has the author any special skills or failings?

B. Genre

B-1 What would you say is the principal genre for 'Sandman'? What secondary genre could also describe it?

C. Structure

C-1 Discuss the structure of the book. Did it work well for the storyline?

C-2 One review of 'Sandman' described the dialogue as 'punchy'. How was this achieved when a lot of information has to be passed on to the reader without entering long scenes?

C-3 Discuss how the author handled scene descriptions. How well did you picture the settings used?

C-4 Discuss why the author chose not to begin the book with a murder scene. Was this a good move or a bad one?

C-5 How soon were you 'drawn' into the book?

C-6 Who is the real hero of the book?

D. Characters

D-1 Did you get a good mental picture of the characters?

D-2 Which characters came over the strongest?

D-3 Was any particular character weak? If so, why?

D-4 Did you fail to picture any character? Did this matter, or was it because they just played a minor role?

E. Relationships

E-1 What is Paul's relationship like with his mother? (We first meet her in the flesh on p56 when she arrives for the beach party.)

E-2 What is Paul's relationship like with his daughter, Leah?

E-3 What is Leah's relationship like with her father, Paul?

E-4 What is Paul's relationship like with his friend, Charlie, the decorator?

E-5 What is Stevie's relationship like with his parents and with Hilda?

F. Morality

F-1 Discuss the morality of the following principal characters: Sasha Vincent, Paul Vincent, Carol Davis. Has the author made it clear what their feelings are in this respect and do they change over the course of the book?

G. Point-of-View and Voice

[Note: When you experience a scene through the senses of a character it is written in that character's 'point-of-view'.]

G-1 Discuss why the author changes point-of-view.

G-2 Did you ever get confused about who's point-of-view applied in a given scene? If not, how was this achieved?

G-3 Open the book at random a few times and begin reading from the beginning of the next scene. How quickly does someone realise who's point-of-view applies in that scene?

G-4 If this book had been written in the first person, would it have been as strong? Who would that person be? Would there have been difficulties or literary sacrifices?

G-5 Which is the principal point-of-view?

G-6 Discuss whether 'voice' changes with point-of-view — and if so, why.

G-7 How strong is the authorial voice? Discuss whether techniques are used to minimize this during descriptions — and if so, why?

H. Realism

H-1 Do the various relationships seem real to you? If so, discuss how this is achieved between any two characters. If not, why?


Ian Kingsley would love to receive feedback from reading groups, especially any strong and agreed feelings, good or bad. If you are able to condense your group's feelings about 'Sandman' into a brief review, please feel free to send it in for possible inclusion on this website, subject to editing/shortening, and credited to your reading group (with contact information, if supplied).

If you have a question for the author, or would like his response to your feedback, please use this opportunity to request a personal reply. Many thanks for your interest.

Please click here for contact details.

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