This reading group guide for The Cutaway includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. 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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When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Neely Tucker, Washington Post
national desk correspondent and author of Only the Hunted Run
, said The Cutaway
“rolls through the murky waters of DC media and politics that Christina Kovac knows so well.” What role, if any, do you think the city of DC played in the story? Do you think this mystery would have played out differently if it took place in your city? If so, how?
2. As we’re introduced to Virginia Knightly, she says of Evelyn Carney, “I didn’t know the woman. I’d never met her . . . somehow I got hooked at that first glimpse of her.” Why do you think Virginia fixated on Evelyn Carney’s case in particular? What does Virginia have in common with Evelyn Carney? How do they differ?
3. In Chapter 14, we see a glimpse into the tumultuous relationship between Virginia and her father. How do you think the events of her childhood have contributed to her current life? How, if at all, do you think it has impacted her approach to the Evelyn Carney case?
4. On page 155, Virginia wakes up from a nightmare:
Last night I dreamed I was swimming in the river. In the distance, a woman was drifting facedown. I wanted to help her, but the tide was working against me, and with each stroke, she seemed farther away from my reach. It was hopeless, there wasn’t enough time, and suddenly I was there, as happens only in dreams. My hands were on her shoulders, turning her, the long and tangled hair covering her face. I brushed her hair away to find her eyes were alive and open, a summer-sky blue, and she gasped a deep gulp of air.
It was my mother.
How would you interpret this dream? Why do you think her mother comes to life? How does this relate to Virginia’s circumstances in that moment?
5. Would you consider Virginia Knightly is better equipped for a fight or for love? Why?
6. Virginia and Ben have very different approaches to their jobs and even their relationships. How would you characterize both of them as individuals? How do their differences positively and negatively affect their partnership? Which personality, if any, do you believe is more fitting to the role of a journalist? In which character do you see more of yourself?
7. On page 65, Virginia says to their intern, “You’re a female journalist. Under no circumstances can you show emotion. Do you understand?” How does this speak to the challenges of being a professional woman? What are some of the biggest obstacles female journalists face? How does this impact Virginia’s career? How does it impact Moira’s? Heather’s?
8. Throughout the novel, we see many different purveyors of justice, including the police (Michael), journalists (Virginia), and law firms (Paige). How do you believe each character would define “justice”? How does their definition of justice impact their actions? How would you define justice?
9. The Cutaway
gives readers a look at the inner workings of a TV newsroom. On page 10, when describing her job, Virginia says, “For me, it has always been about telling stories, no matter where you do it—in front of the camera or behind it—and it’s the best gig going. You hold on to it for as long as you can, knowing that one morning you can wake up at the pinnacle, and by nightfall, you’re clinging to your career by your fingertips. In a snap, just like that.” What surprised you most about the world of television journalism? In your opinion, what is the most important role of the journalist? How did this change your view of journalists, if at all?
10. At the end of the novel, Virginia is faced with a difficult decision between romance and her career. Do you think Virginia made the right choice? Why or why not? What would you have done if placed in the same position?Enhance Your Book Club
1. The Cutaway
has been optioned for a television series. Who would you cast in the lead roles? Why? Which scenes in The Cutaway
did you find particularly cinematic? Discuss them with your book club.
2. Christina Kovac began her career as a television journalist with Fox 5’s Ten O’Clock News
, then an ABC affiliate in Washington DC, and the last nine years working at NBC News providing coverage for Meet the Press,
show, Nightly News,
and others. In her time as a desk editor and news producer for the Washington Bureau of NBC Network News, she worked on such stories as that of missing DC intern, Chandra Levy. Take a moment to watch clips from these networks. How do you think Christina’s career influenced her writing? How does The Cutaway
impact the way you watch the news, if at all?
3. To learn more about Christina Kovac, read reviews of her work, and find her on tour, visit her official site at ChristinaKovac.com.