Discussion guide

It is an odd experience writing questions about your own work, but very rewarding – and flattering – to think that a group of readers are about to give Labyrinth such close attention. I wrote these questions at the request of a Canadian reading group and I hope they fit the bill …

  1. In the prologue Kate gives glimpses several leading characters. But she doesn’t tell you who is who, which to sympathise with and which to condemn. What effect does this have on how you, as reader, begin the novel?
  2. Also in the prologue, there are glimpses of the two time periods. Do you think it is important that, after the prologue, Kate starts the novel proper with 10 chapters set in the medieval past?
  3. How did you feel when the action moved to contemporary France in chapter 11?
  4. How quickly did you discover that some of the modern characters mirror or echo characters from the past? Which ones did you spot first? What were the clues?
  5. Do you see Guilhem as an unhappy character, who never fully atones for his betrayal of Alaïs, or does he finally put things right?
  6. Have you ever felt, like Alice, such an affinity with a place that you seem to know who must have previously lived there and the emotions they enjoyed or endured?
  7. Some of Kate’s medieval characters are real, in the sense that people with those names lived and breathed in the circumstances Kate narrates 800 years ago. Did you notice anything different about the ‘real’ characters? (For example, Raymond-Roger Trencavel, Agnès de Montpellier, Simon de Montfort and others.) And have you visited our website to learn more about these people – www.mosselabyrinth.co.uk?
  8. There are very few scenes of violence in Kate’s novel, but those few are extremely severe. Do you think they were ‘too much’, ‘not enough’ or ‘just right’?
  9. Kate wanted to tell an adventure story in which active women shaped their own destinies. One journalist called her ‘Wilma Smith’! Is this aspect of the adventure important to your enjoyment of the novel?
  10. Although the Labyrinth story and the trilogy of special books have a spiritual element, they exist alongside Catharism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, not as part of any of these religions. How do you think Kate handles questions of faith?