Meg Bignell’s debut, The Sparkle Pages, follows Susannah Parks – wife, mother, cleaner of surfaces and runner of household. In her highly confidential diary, Susannah documents the search for the elusive spark in her marriage, along with all the high and low notes of life with her four beloved children, with her best friend Ria, and with Hugh, the man who fills her heart with burning passion and her washing pile with shirts. Here are some talking points that are sure to spark conversation at your next book club meeting.
Discussion points and questions:
- ‘The Sparkle Project. That’s what I’ve named this resolution. And this diary is the Sparkle Pages. There will be sparkles. I am determined.’ Have you ever gone to such lengths to reignite your spark for a certain passion?
- Throughout the course of the novel, Susannah often doubts Hugh’s love for her. Did you?
- In what ways is a best friend more or less important than a partner?
- At one point Susannah laments: ‘How did I end up spending my life searching for sundries, washing undies and trying to get out of cooking?’ What do you see as the lows of parenting? Do they ever outweigh the highs?
- Susannah states that her love for her children sometimes punches her in the stomach. Discuss what you think she means.
- In what ways do you agree with Susannah that ‘a wife would be handy’?
- Did you find it understandable why Susannah refused to play viola for so long?
- Eloise says, ‘Are you going mad, do you think? You can be weird sometimes.’ Were there times in the novel where you ever felt Susannah was going ‘mad’?
- Anxiety is in epidemic proportions among Australian mothers. Why do you think this is, and in what ways does Susannah represent women you know?
- ‘There’s the one thing that I would really, really like in the bedroom – for Hugh to make the bed and vacuum under it. Without my asking him. If he ever washed the sheets, I swear to god I’d have an orgasm.’ Are there any other domestic duties that you would classify as sexual fantasies?
- Did you feel sympathetic towards Ria in relation to her final act?
And then, if you’ve all had a few wines:
- What’s your worst in-salon experience?
- Do you keep secrets from your partner?
- Have you tried love eggs?