The Double Eagle – suggested topics for reading groups

The following questions are intended to act as conversation starters or as areas around which your reading group might want to focus their discussion. Hopefully, they will make your experience of reading The Double Eagle even better:

1. As a reader, it is often natural to empathise with and root for the hero. In The Double Eagle, however, Tom Kirk admits to being a thief and to having killed a man. Did this apparent paradox make you feel in any way guilty or uncomfortable and if not, why not?

2. How would you describe Tom’s relationship with his parents and with Harry Renwick? What influence has that had in him becoming the person he has?

3. Art thieves are often portrayed in the media and Hollywood as being suave, cultured and highly intelligent compared to bank robbers, for example, who are often violent and brutish. Why do you think this is and is this reputation justified?

4. Art theft is a popular subject for Hollywood. What films can you name that deal with this subject matter and how do they compare? What are some of the common features that run between them? Which of these features can you identify in The Double Eagle?

5. The Double Eagle has been described as having been written in a very “cinematic” style. Do you agree with this assessment and if so, how do you think it has been achieved stylistically?

6. What motivates Tom Kirk to co-operate with Jennifer Browne. Does this change as the book progresses?

7. How would you describe Jennifer Browne? What clues to her character do we get about that when we first meet her? How did your perception of her change as the book progressed?

8. Tom Kirk and Jennifer Browne are from opposite sides of the law. But do you see any parallels between their lives and characters? Do they see this themselves?

9. Who/what is you favourite artist or painting? If you could steal one thing and get away with it, what would it be and why?

10. If you could spend a day in any of the places described in this novel, where would it be, and why? Fort Knox? Les Invalides? The Cistern of Theodisius? The canals of Amsterdam? The Marais? Somewhere else?

11. Many of the characters in the book collect something. What light, if any, does this shine upon their personalities?

12. How would you describe the narratorial voice in the book. Intrusive, anonymous, fair?

13. What is interesting about the way this story is told? How are the episodes of the novel arranged and linked? In your discussion, you might want to identify where the turning points in the action are where those moments are after which everything is different. Did you anticipate them?

14. What is the novel’s theme? Is there a central message or idea that links all the other components of the novel together?

15. The historical events described in the book, including the circumstances of the Double Eagle’s production, theft and dramatic reappearance are all true. Did having a real historical background change your enjoyment or perception of the book?

16. Has reading the book made you want to find out more about the period of history when the Double Eagle was first stolen or any of the other works featured in the novel?

If you have further topics to suggest, then please do send them in