A Reading Group Guide to A Maids of Honor novel: Maid of Wonder By Jennifer McGowan
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Unravel the mystery behind the Maids of Honor with the following questions:
1. Sophia’s story starts in a very unusual location. Where is she? Describe the setting in your own words and the individuals she meets there.
2. Sophia is well known to the servants and guards at Windsor Castle, including Master Seton. How does she help Master Seton early in the book, and how does he repay her kindness later in the story?
3. What prediction is made about Queen Elizabeth in Chapter Three? When you read it for the first time, what did you think it meant?
4. In Chapter Three, we also meet Sophia’s friends, the other Maids of Honor. How is Sophia similar to her fellow spies, and how is she different?
5. Drawing examples from the text, describe Sophia’s relationship with the Queen. Are she and the Queen on friendly terms? Does Sophia believe that the Queen will ultimately protect her?
6. Sophia and her fellow Maids of Honor take a lesson from the herb mistress of Windsor Castle. What are the two recipes discussed and what are the ingredients used?
7. Sophia has a privileged position in Queen Elizabeth’s court, but she must be constantly on her guard so as not to seem too “odd.” If Sophia were alive today, do you think she would be able to hide her psychic abilities more easily, or would it be even more difficult? Would you be her friend? Why or why not?
8. Describe Sophia’s relationship with her uncle, John Dee. Is John Dee a positive influence in her life, or a negative one? What examples can you find in the story to support your conclusion?
9. John Dee’s assistant, Marcus Quinn, flirts with Sophia from the moment they first meet. In your opinion, is Marcus trustworthy? What does he do and say to make you feel that way? Why do you think Sophia is drawn to him?
10. Which of the five Maids of Honor do you think has the most useful ability as a spy? Cite examples from the story to support your opinion. What special talent would you want to have if you were a spy?
11. One afternoon, Sophia realizes that Nostradamus, the great mystic of France, has arrived at Windsor Castle. What new details about the castle tip her off that Nostradamus has arrived? How does she react to the news?
12. Sophia is forced into a competition with John Dee and Nostradamus to solve the prediction about a death in Windsor Castle. Each of the three competitors uses a different process to solve the mystery. Describe each process. Which one do you think is the most successful in reaching a complete and accurate answer?
13. Not everyone at Windsor Castle is comfortable with the idea of Sophia connecting with the spirit world. Who specifically is opposed to Sophia using any sort of magic, and what do they do to attempt to make her “prove” that she is not a witch?
14. Sir Francis Walsingham, one of the Queen’s advisors, is forced to make a life-or-death decision in this story. What choice does he make, and why does he feel like it was the right decision? Do you agree with his reasoning? Why or why not?
15. After the mystery of the prediction is solved, the Queen believes she is safe. But who else threatens the Queen’s life late in the book, and why? How does Sophia help keep the Queen safe?
16. At the book’s conclusion, Sophia is determined to find answers about the connection between the dark angel and Marcus. Write a brief paragraph about what you think should happen next in Sophia’s story. What would she discover? This guide has been provided by the author for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.