Discussion Points for Reading Groups

  1. Taken At Night is set in Sydney in 1900.  What did you know about Sydney at this time before reading the book?
  2. Who or what do you think brought the plague to Sydney? Why?
  3. How did the  Government and Council deal with the plague risk? Do you think their measures would have been successful?
  4. Kare sees the Quarantine Station as “a place of exile and of passage, where souls would easily slip through the gates to the next world.” How do you think people living in Sydney in 1900 would have viewed the  Quarantine Station ? How would people view it today?
  5. Sydney in 1900 was a mixing pot of beliefs, politics and ideologies-which ones did you notice and how did they contribute to the story?
  6. As a photographer, Beatrix observes and records people and places. How do photography and photographs feature in the story?
  7. The crime occurs on the Sydney waterfront, and many scenes take place near the Harbour. What significance does the waterfront have for the characters and the plot?
  8. Rachel Benedict is rather a mysterious character – we learn more about her from others than we do from her directly. What do you think motivated her and who was threatened by her?
  9. Both Beatrix and Fergus have relationships in their past. How do you think this affects them?
  10. At the end of the book, where do you think the relationship is headed between Beatrix and Fergus Blair? Between Beatrix and Wilfrid?

Further reading:

Ian Townsend, Affection – a novel about the outbreak of plague in Queensland. Funny and moving.

Shirley Fitzgerald Sydney: A Story of a City – a comprehensive history of Sydney and its Council shenanigans.

Sulari Gentill – Rowland Sinclair series – crime novels set in Sydney and other settings in the 1930s.

Christa Ludlow – “The Reader Investigates” – an article about the history of Australian crime fiction, featuring some crime novels set in Sydney in the nineteenth and early 20th centuries.

Places to visit:

The Q Station – the Quarantine Station is now a hotel and conference centre.

Justice and Police Museum – formerly the Water Police station

The Rocks – places mentioned in the novel are the Palisade Hotel, Observatory Hill, the Argyle Cut and the Hero of Waterloo hotel.