Part mystery, part true crime, part comedy and part historical document, the multiple layers of Catherine Jinks’ Charlatan ensure rich pickings for a hearty book club discussion. Here are some questions to help get the inquest underway.
Discussion points and questions:
- Charlatan could be categorised in a number of ways: true crime, social history, courtroom drama, legal studies. It paints quite a picture of late 19th century life in Australia and New Zealand. How different is this society to the one you imagined?
- What do you think it was about this time that encouraged so many to take up public rhetoric and performance?
- Can you imagine yourself attending a public talk or demonstration of this ilk?
- Some cities immediately denounced Carr and shouted him out of town, others, such as Adelaide embraced him from the highest levels of society down. Why could that be?
- Was Carr the equivalent of a contemporary reality TV or social media celebrity who enjoyed publicity and celebrity, or something more sinister, or authentic?
- What do you believe: did Thomas Guthrie Carr mesmerise and then sexually assault Eliza Gray?