Book Group Discussion Questions for Surface

  1. What is the significance of the novel’s title? Talk about the imagery of “surface” and “surfacing,” and how this is represented throughout the story.
  2. How do you think Michael’s and Claire’s descriptions of their marriage might have differed before Nick’s accident? What exactly is a beautiful/good marriage? Is fidelity essential to this?
  3. How do you imagine that Claire’s upbringing affected her life choices?
  4. Surface explores the consequences of flawed choices that any of us might be tempted to make. Have you ever made a choice that had implications far beyond what you could have imagined?
  5. As a woman finally coming to terms with the fact that her “beautiful” life really wasn’t the life she’d wanted, Claire struggles mightily with all that has brought her to this realization. Denial is a theme that runs through Surface, as does the idea that what seems beautiful on the surface isn’t always so. Did Claire need a cataclysmic event to shake her out of her denial?
  6. Of the four main female characters, Claire, Jackie, Gail and Carolyn, to whom do you most relate?
  7. Some readers may view Michael as a jerk, while others may be moved by his humanity. How do you see him? How does Michael change, if at all, over the course of the novel?
  8. The themes of betrayal (of others and oneself) and forgiveness loom large in this story. Talk about Claire and Nick’s journey toward forgiveness/new beginnings.
  9. Despite the disastrous aftermath of Claire’s indiscretion, do you think she, Nicholas and Michael are better off for it at the end of the story? Do you believe that there sometimes are blessings to be found in tragedy?
  10. What role does the motif of art play in the book? Discuss the idea of getting “comfortable with the asymmetry” and finding “beauty in the scars,” as Claire chants in the labyrinth.
  11. How does Claire’s journey through the labyrinth transform her views about moving forward? What greater meaning did this experience hold for her?
  12. When Claire launches her art consulting business, she finds new purpose and energy – the beginnings of a second act. How do you see Nick adjusting to a potential second act? Michael? Where do you see each of these characters in ten years?

©2016 Stacy Robinson