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Book Club Reading Questions

Book Club Questions for Sunbathing by Isobel Beech | WellRead’s June 2022 selection

Book Club Questions for Sunbathing by Isobel Beech | WellRead’s June 2022 selection

WellRead’s June 2022 selection was Sunbathing by Isobel Beech. Drawn from Beech’s own experience of losing a parent to suicide, this is a quiet and contained story, effortlessly readable and deeply moving, owing to its intuitive and elegant writing. 

Use these discussion questions to engage with the book further, whether in a book club with friends, or just on your own as you digest the story. 

Reading questions for Sunbathing by Isobel Beech:

  • Did anyone else start making travel plans to Abruzzo while reading the book?

  • Do you think it's significant that the narrator sleeps in the house's Birthing Room? If so, why?
  • What does the natural world offer to the narrator and how does this affect her grief?
  • We could practically hear the crickets, smell the espresso and feel the Italian sun on our skin while reading this book. Did you find the evocation of place compelling?
  • The Guardian review of Sunbathing observed the narrator's condition as a "complex swirl of grief, anger and dissociation". Was this recognisable to you? Could you relate to how the narrator felt?
  • How is the internet and social media portrayed in the novel?
  • In what ways does Giulia offer her friendship to the narrator? And isn't she just the greatest best friend?! Love her.
  • "I was having the best time. Or maybe a manic episode?" Apart from making us laugh out loud, this sentiment reveals that our narrator does not trust or fully understand her feelings. Do you think this changes by the end of the novel?
  • The narrator cites Esther Perel and her idea that living in the wake of grief is an act of joy and power. "All those people are dead but you aren't, so you have to live your life, but also all the lives they didn't get." Discuss!

Please note, these questions were written and distributed in June, 2022.