BLOOD LILY Reading Group Guide

Hi, all! Now that The Betrayal of the Blood Lily is officially out in the world, I can unveil for you the Blood Lily Reading Group Guide. This is a series of discussion questions designed to facilitate reading group meetings (or simply for your own entertainment). Warning: there are spoilers!

As always, if you’d like me to phone in to your readers’ group or to participate in a group meeting on-line, just email and let me know!


Questions for discussion:

Attention: Some plot spoilers in this guide.

1. Lauren Willig employs nineteenth-century India and modern-day London as the settings for The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. If you had to choose two different places or eras in which to set this book, which would they be?

2. What did you think of Penelope when she was first introduced? Did your opinion of her change as the novel progressed?

3. “She hated that name. It was like a shackle around her neck, engraved with the name of her master” [page 53]. Talk about Penelope’s resistance to conventions such as manners, marriage, and mores. Why did she buck authority so much? Why do you think she was attracted to Alex, who appeared to be the personification of tradition and honor?

4. Which figures in the nineteenth-century story line most resemble some of the modern-day characters, such as Eloise, Colin, or Serena?

5. Willig created Eloise as a first-person protagonist, but chose to tell Penelope’s story indirectly, through a third-person narrator. As a reader, do you prefer being “in the head” of a character, or would you rather experience their stories through the filter of an outside party? Would the novel have been different if Eloise and Penelope’s perspectives were swapped?

6. Captain Alex Reid first appears as a mysterious figure. Initially, did you have any clues to what he might have been hiding? What did you think of him as his secrets were revealed?

7. The portion of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily devoted to Penelope is longer than Eloise’s part. Did you want to read more about Eloise, and/or less about Penelope? Or did you find the balance between the two story lines to be satisfactory?

8. “When had it become about making Captain Reid jealous?” [page 207]. Answer this question yourself: What was Penelope’s motivation here? Why did she feel compelled to stoke Alex’s protectiveness?

9. Once the identity of the Marigold was revealed, were you shocked or surprised? What were some hints that might have pointed to who the Marigold really was?

10. Given his principled nature, was it surprising that Alex worked to construct the cover-up described in Chapter Thirty-One? Why did he work so hard to shield his brother from scrutiny?

11. Prior to reading The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, what did you know about India in the nineteenth century, and Britain’s interests in the country?

12. Eloise and Colin, Alex and Penelope: Discuss some of the couples in The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. What did you think of them? Which were the more unlikely pairs?

13. In its praise for the Pink Carnation series, USA Today has said that “Pride and Prejudice lives on.” Do you agree with this characterization? Can you think of other authors or series to compare to Lauren Willig and her Pink Carnation books?


  1. Georgia on January 14, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Hi Lauren,
    Thanks for the reading guide. I was wondering if you could point readers to other visual resources. I found this great map of India in 1804 available at the U. of Texas Library (who knew there were Danish possessions in India???). If you know of or have additional maps, illustrations, photos, and other resources, I think readers would greatly appreciate them.
    Thank you!

  2. Lauren on January 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Georgia, that’s a great idea! I’ve been thinking of adding a maps section to the site….

  3. AnneK on January 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Hi Lauren,
    I’m re-reading the book (which was great, by the way) becuase I’m a little confused. Pen knew that Jane was the Pink Carnation? and how did Alex’s cover-up story in Chapter Thirty-One end up as a Pink Carnation myth?
    Thanks for the great story about Pen and Alex!

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