> Skip to content

Book clubs  •  6 September 2019

 

Khaki Town book club notes

Transport your book club to Queensland during World War II with Judy Nunn’s exciting new novel, Khaki Town.

It’s March 1942. Singapore has fallen. Darwin has been bombed. Australia is on the brink of being invaded by the Imperial Japanese Forces. And Val Callahan, publican of The Brown's Hotel in Townsville, could not be happier as she contemplates the fortune she's making from lonely, thirsty soldiers. But as tensions rise, battle lines are drawn among the 70,000-strong contingent of local and American soldiers. A violent confrontation looms…

Judy Nunn’s Khaki Town has all the requisite drama and intrigue of a memorable book club selection. Take your next reading group meet-up to the next level with a 1940s themed gathering: you can find food, drink and outfit suggestions here. Then use the questions below to get the conversations started.

Discussion points and questions:

  • The White Australia policy is long gone, the US has voted in a Black president, there are protocols around racist language and segregation that are mostly scrupulously upheld. How far have Australian and US societies advanced in the spheres of civil rights and race relations since 1942?
  • This novel was inspired by real events. How did that affect your reading and enjoyment of the story? In what ways did Khaki Town offer a new perspective on your understanding of Australia and America’s Second World War history?
  • Strut Stowers presents the reader with certain dilemmas. He’s both a subjugated victim and a vindictive bully. What did you make of him?
  • Betty models herself on some strong female film stars of her era. Which actors do you think would be best playing Betty – and the other characters – if Khaki Town were to be made into a movie?
  • Betty and Kasey fall in love very quickly. Why do you think each of them was attracted to the other? If the mutiny hadn’t happened, what do you think the future would have held for their relationship?
  • Similarly, when the war is over, what do you feel will happen between Amelia and Captain Robinson?
  • ‘I’ll sure as hell remember you, Val,’ says Lyndon Johnson. There’s no doubt that Val Callahan is a memorable character, who’s managed to gather around her a family of many different stripes (including, remarkably, a snake!). What do you think it is about Val that’s drawn all these people to her so she, in turn, can flourish during the hardships of war?
  • Were you shocked by Kasey’s behaviour and actions during the mutiny? Why do you think he made sure he played a central role in the uprising?
  • What are your thoughts on Lyndon Johnson’s handling of the investigation, in particular his management of Captain Maxwell and Sergeant Stowers?
  • Pete Vickers is the kind of journalist who wants to keep the bastards honest, hold administrations to account. He’s held back from doing so because of the times he’s living in. Do you think he will thrive when the war is over; and do you think his career would thrive now?
  • The fates of Kasey and Betty are in some ways the cruellest in the book. How do you think Betty’s wartime experiences will affect her, taking into account all we see of her personality?
  • Kipling’s Just So Stories, Bundaberg’s rum, Magnetic Island’s holiday appeal – a number of aspects of the book endure, even after more than 75 years. What do you think Townsville, Queensland, Australia will look like in another 75 years? Will we still be reading Kipling and enjoying a Bundy and Coke?
  • If you had been living in Townsville in 1942 would you have felt safer with the influx of troops, or alarmed by their arrival? Can you imagine your town suddenly becoming a khaki town; how do you think it would affect your community?

For ideas on hosting a 1940s themed book club, click here

Feature Title

Khaki Town

MILLION COPY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

Read more

More features

See all
Book clubs
How to host a Khaki Town book group

Impress your book club with a 1940s themed party to discuss Khaki Town by Judy Nunn.

Book clubs
Black Sheep book club questions

A sweeping historical novel to read with your book club.

Book clubs
Showtime! book club notes

Let Judy Nunn take you on a scintillating journey through the golden age of Australian show business.

Book clubs
Sanctuary book club notes

Discover the strength of the human spirit with your book club in Judy Nunn’s Sanctuary.

Article
A brief guide to Judy Nunn

A guide to Australian author Judy Nunn and a few of her most popular books.

Q&A
Judy Nunn Q&A

The Khaki Town author answers our questions about bringing wartime Townsville to life.

Article
The 10 bestselling fiction books of 2023

Check out our top-selling fiction books this year.

Article
Let us tell you a story

Australian authors and personalities read some of our favourite picture books.

Q&A
Writing an island

Judy Nunn offers insights into the creation of her book Sanctuary.

Book clubs
Psykhe book club questions

A new twist on a Greek myth that gives voice, power and agency to the woman at the centre of the story.

Book clubs
The Studio Girls book club Questions

A sumptuous, nostalgic book about the Golden Age of cinema to read with your book club

Book clubs
A Gentleman in Moscow book club questions

A letter from the author and book club questions for one of Amor Towles' most popular books.

Looking for more book club notes?

See all book club notes