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Book clubs  •  4 August 2020


The Night Swim book club notes

An electrifying and propulsive pick for your next book club meeting.

From the author of The Escape Room comes another thrilling novel that will have you on the edge of your seat. Diving into the public's ongoing fascination with true crime podcasts, this story will leave your book club pondering: what is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny, did she drown or was it murder?

Discussion points and questions:

  • The epigraph at the start of The Night Swim quotes from Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Jenny, like Tess, was from a lower social class to her assailants. What role did class play in the way that Jenny was treated in life and in death, as well as the way that she was remembered by the townspeople? 
  • Hannah sent Rachel letters rather than approach her to ask for her help. Why was she so reticent to tell Rachel her story in person?
  • In Hannah’s childhood recollections about what happened to Jenny, it’s clear that she sensed that something bad was happening to her sister. Do you think that other people in the town would have known or suspected, and could they have taken steps to protect Jenny?
  • Pete tries to stop Rachel from seeing the nasty social media comments about her podcast. He tells her that social niceties don’t apply on social media and that people will say things that they would never dare say to a person’s face. Was he right to protect Rachel in this way? Do you think that if Rachel had known what people were saying on social media then it would have influenced her coverage? Why do you think that people are so outspoken on social media?
  • Scott Blair’s mother accuses Rachel of covering her son’s trial for the fame and the money. Do you think that Rachel treated Scott fairly in her coverage of the trial? How important is objectivity in media coverage of trials and other news events?
  • Mitch Alkins tells Rachel that he’s not a fan of true crime podcasts. He says he doesn’t understand people’s fascination ‘with other people’s tragedies’ and he calls these podcasts ‘modern day rubbernecking’. Why do you think that people are so fascinated by true crime podcasts? Do you agree with Mitch Alkins that it’s modern day rubbernecking?
  • Dale Quinn tried to make Scott Blair come across as sympathetic to the jury and to the people in the courthouse. In what ways did he do this? Was he right not to bring Scott Blair onto the stand? 
  • Do you consider Bobby Green/Vince Knox to be a victim or a perpetrator or both? Were there other characters in the novel who could be considered both victim and perpetrator?
  • Rachel suggests in one of her podcasts that maybe sexual assault trials should be handled differently from other trials because of the nature of these crimes, which sometimes rest on whether there was consent. What is your opinion?
  • How did covering the trial and learning about what happened to Jenny help Rachel reassess her own experiences as a woman?

The Night Swim Megan Goldin

The heart-stopping new thriller by the Australian author who has taken the US by storm.

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