Discussion Questions for Sea of Secrets

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Warning: Spoilers follow!

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1. Sea of Secrets is clear­ly inspired by Shakespeare’s Ham­let. What are some of the par­al­lels? What are the biggest dif­fer­ences? Does Sea of Secrets give you a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on Ham­let? Do the par­al­lels between the two works enhance Sea of Secrets? If so, how?

2. Very rarely is the hero­ine, Oriel, addressed by name. Instead, those around her use endear­ments, nick­names, or oth­er ways of refer­ring to her (e.g., “daugh­ter,” “Ondine,” “my dear”). What do these dif­fer­ent forms of address reveal about each character’s rela­tion­ship with Oriel? Who actu­al­ly calls her by her name, and is this sig­nif­i­cant?

3. The sea is a recur­ring pres­ence in the book, and Oriel feels she has a spe­cial rela­tion­ship with it. Why is this? In what ways does this con­nec­tion man­i­fest itself? Is the ocean a sym­bol? If so, what does it sym­bol­ize, and does this mean­ing change over the course of the sto­ry?

4. Dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters offer a vari­ety of per­spec­tives on the late duke, Herron’s father. What kind of pic­ture emerges from their descrip­tions and impli­ca­tions?

5. A turn­ing point in Her­ron and Oriel’s rela­tion­ship occurs when he strips her on the night of the ball. Why does he do this? What does it reveal about his feel­ings toward women in gen­er­al and Oriel in par­tic­u­lar?

6. Over the course of the nov­el Oriel gains two suit­ors. What traits in each man attract her? How are they dif­fer­ent? What qual­i­ties in Charles may make him a bet­ter match for Oriel than Her­ron?

7. How does Oriel change over the course of the sto­ry? In what ways does she gain wis­dom or matu­ri­ty? Do you feel that she is a stronger per­son at the end of the nov­el than she is at the begin­ning? What do you envi­sion that her future will be like?

8. Oriel is haunt­ed by the fear that she may take after her father. Do you see any resem­blances between them? What are her father’s chief per­son­al­i­ty traits?

9. In the 1850s, when the sto­ry takes place, the posi­tion of Vic­to­ri­an women was still great­ly lim­it­ed. Based on the female char­ac­ters in the sto­ry, what impres­sion do you get of the expect­ed role of the Vic­to­ri­an woman? In what ways do dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters adhere to that role or defy it?

10. Sea of Secrets fol­lows in the tra­di­tion of clas­sic goth­ic romance nov­els like Jane Eyre and Rebec­ca. What tra­di­tion­al goth­ic ele­ments do you see in the sto­ry? Are any of the goth­ic con­ven­tions altered or over­turned in this nov­el?