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1. In the Reader’s Circle interview, Monica McInerney cites several authors as inspiration for her writing (John le Carré, Edith Nesbit, John Wyndham, Maeve Binchy, and Adriana Trigiani, among others). Do you see the inﬂuence of these writers in McInerney’s writing? What novels would you compare to Family Baggage, and why do you feel they are similar?
2. Reading has had a strong inﬂuence on Monica McInerney, as she discusses in the Reader’s Circle interview. How important has reading been to you? Did you read a great deal as a child, or have you come to reading later in life? What role does it play in your life today?
3. Do you think Penny was right to keep the truth about Lara’s parents a secret?
4. Was it fair for Penny to ask Gloria to keep the family secret? What would you have done in Gloria’s place?
5. Do you believe there are secrets that should be kept, or is truth always the best method?
6. In Family Baggage, Monica McInerney uses several different voices and viewpoints, from different family members, to tell the story. How did having different viewpoints help or hinder your connection to the characters and story? Do you prefer a particular point of view in novels (ﬁrst person, third person, omniscient, etc.)?
7. Which voice in Family Baggage was the most powerful for you? Did you enjoy hearing from one character more than another?
8. Near the end of the novel (p. 456), Harriet and Lara each confess that they had always wished they were more like the other. Do you think this is a common sentiment for sisters?
9. How do the relationships between brother and sister (Austin and Harriet, for example), brother and brother ( James and Austin), and sister and sister (Harriet and Lara) differ in Family Baggage? Are sisters more forgiving of their brothers than their sisters in general, do you think? If you have both a brother and a sister, how does your relationship with each differ?
10. Were you surprised by Melissa’s plan at the end of the novel? Why do you think Gloria and the Turner family expected the worst from Melissa?
11. Some of the funnier moments in the novel occur with the tour group members. If you have been on a tour with a group, share some of the funny or insightful behavior that you witnessed within the group.
12. If you were going to embark on a television show—themed tour, which television show would you choose, and where would the tour take you? (For Monica McInerney’s choice, see the Reader’s Circle interview. Or check out page 177 for a clue.)
Posted November 7, 2006
I really loved this book! I could relate to Harriet, having lost my own father very suddenly without the opportunity to say goodbye. This book is very touching, and really makes you appreciate family.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2006
In Merryn Bay, Australia, Turner Travel escorts local residents on themed trips out of country. However, the recent deaths of the family leaders, Neil and Penny Turner, within a couple of months of one another have left their adult children grieving and the business in jeopardy.------------ Though still in mourning Harriet knows her mother would have wanted her to lead the tour of twelve clients on a trip through the Cornwall countryside. However, her adopted sister Lara fails to show up at the airport as expected so Harriet is on her own pondering the future and dwelling on the past. James avoids confrontation hiding behind the skirts of his overbearing spouse Melissa so refuses to think about what will happen to Turner Travel without his founding parents to guide it. Austin refuses to do anything but party as he has no concern about the future. Finally adopted Lara, taken in by their parents nearly twenty-five earlier, tries to help manage the firm effectively, but suddenly instead of helping Harriet on tour, has vanished as she has learned something about why she was adopted.----------------- This is a fascinating family drama though much of the story line centers on Harriet. Readers see how the four adult children react differently to the deaths of their parents as James and Austin hide from it in different ways as the former uses his strong wife as a shield and the latter uses hedonism as an escape Harriet mourns her loss but grows as she is forced into new situations while Lara learns a shocking truth about herself that takes away from her chance to grieve. FAMILY BAGGAGE is an interesting character study that focuses on how the living cope with the deaths of loved ones though no one seems to just get on with their life.---------------- Harriet Klausner
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Posted September 9, 2009
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Posted August 16, 2011
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