This reading group guide for The Blue includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Lucy Clarke. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Introduction
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Lana and her best friend, Kitty, leave home looking for freedom—and that’s exactly what they find when they are invited onto The Blue,
a fifty-foot yacht making its way from the Philippines to New Zealand. Manned by a young crew of wanderers, The Blue
is exactly the escape they are looking for, and the two quickly fall under its idyllic spell.
But soon Lana and Kitty begin to discover that they aren’t the only ones with secrets they’d rather run from than reveal. And when one of their new friends disappears overboard after an argument with the other crew members, the dark secrets that brought each of them aboard start to unravel. . . . Topics and Questions For Discussion
1. Think about the state of Lana’s and Kitty’s lives and their friendship together that attracts them to joining The Blue.
Why do they both feel the need to escape their everyday lives? Do you think there’s truth to the saying that “A change is as good as a rest”?
2. The story switches swiftly between Lana’s time on The Blue
and the present, when she learns of the yacht’s accident. She thinks, “If [she] had known everything she does now, she wonders whether she’d ever have set foot on The Blue
” (p. 39). What were your first guesses or inklings as to what had transpired within the crew after Lana’s departure?
3. Lana and Denny seem to have an instant attraction to each other when Lana boards The Blue.
What do you think draws them together?
4. The author made the conscious decision to make every character on board The Blue
be a young, fit person with the need for freedom. How much do you believe that youth inspires feelings of immortality and indestructability, and do you believe these feelings affect the crew and their attitude toward their journey? How do you think their attitudes change after The Blue
’s accident, in the “NOW” chapters?
5. From the very beginning of their journey, something seems particularly mysterious and dark about the appointed skipper, Aaron. Did your suspicions of him evolve along with Lana’s, and if so, how?
6. As each of the crew members’ dark secrets slowly come to light aboard The Blue,
the idyllic nature of this seeming paradise also seems to grow more sinister and claustrophobic. Talk about the ways the author attains this with descriptions of atmosphere, Lana’s mental state, her suspicions, and the confined boat.
7. How do Lana’s opinions of Joseph, Shell, and the other crew members change when she encounters them off the boat? Have you ever been shocked to see someone you know out of their normal context? How much do you think one’s environment can inform one’s personality and identity?
8. Lana is the only crew member who thinks it’s wrong not to mention Joseph’s disappearance to the authorities. Describe what you might do in this situation, and if you can see reason in the rest of the crew’s ultimate decision.
9. When Lana leaves The Blue,
she purposely misses her own opportunity to alert the authorities. Why do you think she does this?
10. Lana ultimately decides to read Kitty’s emails and forgive her—do you believe that this was an instance of “time heals all wounds”? Describe an experience in which time and distance did, or did not, alter a tremendous event in your own life.
11. How do you think Lana’s and Kitty’s experiences on The Blue
will change their relationship from now on? Ponder the nature of forgiveness in their relationship—do you believe one can really “forgive and forget”? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Have you ever felt the need to escape to an exotic new place? Go around the room and talk about your own vision of paradise, and how you might be able to attain that in some small way in your everyday life.
2. The veiling of secrets and personalities play a pivotal role in The Blue.
Have you ever had an experience where your first impression of someone changed as you got to know him or her better? Talk about your experience, and maybe even share your own first impressions of your fellow book club members.
3. Dive into Lucy Clarke’s previous books, A Single Breath
and Swimming at Night,
for your next book club meetings. What common themes do you see in each, and how does The Blue
seem different? A Conversation with Lucy Clarke Your novels often feature strong female characters with tight bonds to other women. Do you have a friendship like Lana and Kitty’s?
I love exploring relationships between women because the bonds that connect them are so often complex and fascinating. I’ve known my two best friends since we were five years old. I certainly drew on the deep sense of connection we share when writing Lana and Kitty’s friendship—although our friendship is far less complicated and volatile, thankfully! Having said that, a few real experiences have been sewn into the fabric of Lana and Kitty’s friendship, such as the flashback of the girls hiding in the theater props room at school and trying on all the costumes! Have you ever felt the need to escape to an almost unreal paradise like Lana? If so, how did you find it?
I live on the south coast of England, which is a wonderful place to be in the summer. But, come winter, when the sea is too cold to play in and gray skies can linger for days, I start to get itchy feet. Luckily, my husband is a keen traveler, too, so every winter we disappear to the southern hemisphere—the more remote the place, the better. We love to camp, hike, surf, and swim. We spent the winter before last in the Philippines, researching for The Blue
. We visited many uninhabited islands and found some of the most spectacular beaches I’ve ever seen. But, no matter how strong my wanderlust is, at the end of each trip I’m always happy to come home. Dark secrets play a huge role in this book, as well as in your previous novels, A Single Breath and Swimming at Night. What is your attraction to characters with secrets?
Secrets fascinate me. There is just something so irresistible about the words “Can you keep a secret?” In my novels I love exploring dark secrets—the ones that are tightly wrapped with lies, and presented as truth. Those are the dangerous ones—where everything is at stake if the truth surfaces. What are your strongest influences when approaching a new novel?
I like to set my novels in a place—or places—that excite and inspire me. I must be able to really see and feel
a place before I’m able to imagine my characters there. I also love exploring the shift in characters when they are removed from an environment they know intimately and displaced somewhere foreign. I enjoy seeing how they react, whether they flourish or flounder in that new space—and ultimately, how the experience changes them. You’ve spoken before about your own experiences inspiring your novels. What place or circumstance gave you the idea for this one?
A few years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week on board a yacht with a friend and her extended family. Having never sailed before, it was incredible to spend day and night on the water, to eat our meals on deck, to anchor in deserted lagoons, to fall asleep to the sound of waves. But what stayed with me after the trip was how interesting the dynamics can be when you’re confined to the small space of a yacht, as emotions become heightened and events can quickly escalate. By the end of that trip, I knew that one day I’d set a novel on board a yacht. Which character do you find yourself relating to or empathizing with the most?
It would have to be Lana. Since she was the lead protagonist, I spent a great deal of time living inside her head, so now I feel a deep connection with all that she goes through in the novel. I understand her need to escape her past and discover somewhere new—somewhere untouched. But just as she grasps this seeming paradise, it begins to crumble beneath her fingertips.