> Skip to content

Book clubs  •  5 October 2022


The Orphans book club notes

At once tragic and triumphant, The Orphans is an unforgettable story about a unique bond between two children that is perfect for book club discussions.

Bestselling author Fiona McIntosh is back with a historical fiction centring around Fleur and Tom. A chance encounter between the two changes the course of their lives, teaching them about love, life, and loss along the way.

The Orphans is a perfect book club pick, with plenty of scenes and themes to discuss with your reading group!

Discussion points and questions:

  • Fleur and Tom are both orphans but they come from very different families. In what ways did their difficult childhoods influence the adults they became?
  • Fleur believes that women can bring something very special to the funeral industry. What are those qualities, and do you agree they are important for end of life rituals?
  • When Tom spots Fleur on the dancefloor, more than twenty years after their first meeting, he wonders whether it was destiny or fate that brought them together again. What do you think?
  • ‘Well, there you are. He could be openly affectionate with your mother because that’s how a man should be with a woman – tender. But as a father, he probably thought his role was to turn you into a man. I’m sure you’ll say something like that to our son.’ Do you think this idea of fatherhood still exists in today’s society? How are things different now to the early 20th century when Tom grew up?
  • ‘Grief is a curious drug.’ How do you think grief affects each of the main characters’ actions: Fleur, Tom, Henry and Irma?
  • Fleur says: ‘I love my work. People think it’s bleak or frightening, but really it’s the opposite. It’s uplifting … an honour to take care of the beloved for their’ Discuss the ways in which this is so.
  • Be grateful for every good thing in your life, Tom, his mother had told him.’ Tom and Fleur both resist becoming bitter despite their hardships. What role do you think gratitude plays in this?
  • Do you think Fleur did the right thing by Irma in court? What would you have done in her situation? Do you agree with Fleur’s belief that Irma’s death achieves nothing?
  • Irma’s lies wreak havoc in Fleur’s life. How might Fleur’s future have played out if her train journey had ended differently?
  • Did you recognise Jamie and Claire Wren from another of Fiona’s novels? Which other books by Fiona McIntosh have you read and enjoyed? Which is your favourite and why?

Feature Title

The Orphans
The highly anticipated new historical adventure by the bestselling author of The Spy's Wife.
Read more

More features

See all
Book clubs
Foul Play book club questions

A heart-stopping jack Hawksworth novel to read with your book club.

Book clubs
The Sugar Palace book club questions

A heart-stopping romantic adventure to read with your book club.

Book clubs
The Spy's Wife book club notes

Much loved author Fiona McIntosh is back with an historical adventure to enjoy with your book club.

Exclusive audiobook content that will inspire you to read more than ever before

Love audiobooks? They’re even better with extra content! Check out some of the audiobooks that include exclusive recorded content for even more enjoyment.

Authors were back on the road in 2022 - and we loved it!

Join us as we travel back in time through 2022 with the authors that hit the road this year.

A Behind-the-scenes look at Fiona McIntosh’s book tour

A look inside of Fiona McIntosh's tour for her new book, The Orphans.

Passionfruit Melting Moments

Bestselling author, Fiona McIntosh, shares her scrumptious recipe for these simple sweets with us.

Books of the year 2022

From fantastically funny rom-coms to straightforward self-help, these are some of the best books of 2022.

Podcast: The story behind Fiona McIntosh's newest book

Listen to the Unscripted podcast episode where this author tells-all about her upcoming release.

Fiona McIntosh on the joy of learning about her hometown while writing

Fiona McIntosh talks about staying regimented during lockdown, the surprising catharsis of writing The Orphans, and her infamous research process.

Better Reading’s Top 100 books of 2024 announced

Penguin Random House is proud to have twenty-four titles on the list this year.

Penguin Noir is back with two events in 2024

Learn about two exciting Penguin Random House author showcases this August!

Looking for more book club notes?

See all book club notes