Death of No Importance
Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (title in UK)
Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance (Title in USA)
| Reading Group
Guide | Q
& A with Gyles
Group Discussion Questions (Click
here for printer-friendly version - PDF)
- Wilde theorizes on page 171, “Suspense is
everything! Only the banal—only the bearded and the bald—live
for the here--and--now. You and I, Robert, we live for the future,
do we not? We live in anticipation.” How does the author
build suspense throughout the story? In what ways, if any, does
the tone of the book change as the characters get closer to solving
- What is Oscar Wilde’s concept of truth? How
does he display this concept in his actions and his descriptions
of other’s actions? Begin by examining page 261.
- On page 38, Oscar says, “I have changed my
mind since then. Consistency, as you know, is the last refuge
of the unimaginative.” Does this way of thinking describe
the reasoning behind Wilde’s actions throughout the story?
If so, in what way?
- Based on evidence in the book, why is Oscar determined
to discover Billy Wood’s murderer? Can we trust the reasons
- All the information that we learn about Oscar is
told to us through the pen of Robert Sherard. How might Sherard’s
own personal prejudices color the descriptions of Wilde that eventually
reach the reader?
- Veronica Sutherland is an intelligent woman trapped
in a time period in which women have limited options. Do you sympathize
with her situation and the decisions she makes?
- On page 170, Oscar says, “It is a humiliating
confession . . . but we are all of us made out of the same stuff.
. . . Sooner or later, one comes to that dreadful universal thing
called human nature.” Do the events of the book reinforce
this conclusion? If so, how?
- How do the main characters of the book differ in
their interpretations of what love is? What does the book ultimately
say about love? For a formulation of Oscar’s personal opinion,
see page 41.
Creative Tips for Enhancing Your Book Club
- The main characters of this book are all well--known
authors in their own rights. Choose one of the works of Oscar
Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or Robert Sherard as the book for
your next book--club reading. Try starting with Wilde’s
The Picture of Dorian Gray, which he was in the process
of writing during the events of this book.
- Explore the exciting history of Oscar Wilde’s
real life by visiting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_wilde.
What were the details of his literary success at a young age and
how did he end up spending two years in jail? Assign a different
topic of research to each person in the group and bring in your
results to share.
- Find out more about the author by visiting his
Or, get ready for the next book in the Oscar Wilde Murder Mystery
series by visiting the Book 2
- Make a group date to attend a performance of one
of Oscar Wilde’s plays. Check local listings to see what
is being performed near you. You may even wish to rent the DVD
2002 feature film of Oscar’s most famous play, The Importance
of Being Earnest.