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The True Deceiver
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Monthly Discussions > January 2017 - The True Deceiver

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Lauren | 37 comments Mod
This month's discussion questions come to us from the publisher, New York Review Books. Let's discuss!

1. Though most of The True Deceiver is written in the third person, occasionally the author relates a first-person account of Katri’s thoughts. What effect did this change in voice have on your experience of reading the novel? Why do you think Jansson uses it where she does?

2. What role do the villagers play in the novel? Did their opinions of Anna, Katri, and Mats affect your impressions of those characters?

3. Although “Katri’s advice was widely discussed in the village and struck people as correct and very astute” [p. 29], she is not liked by her neighbors. Do you think Katri is aware that she makes people uncomfortable, and she either doesn’t care or is unable to change her ways? Or does she not realize the effect she has on people?

4. The first chapter of the novel ends with Katri thinking, “That’s where she lives. Mats and I will live there too. But I have to wait. I need to think carefully before I give this Anna Aemelin an important place in my life” [p. 11]. To what extent are the events in the novel part of Katri’s grand plan? Is there anything she wasn’t able to predict or account for? Why or why not?

5. Tove Jansson was best known in her lifetime as the creator of a series of gentle, fanciful, and very popular cartoon characters—much like Anna’s flowery bunnies. In her introduction to the novel, Ali Smith cites Tove Jansson’s observation that “every serious book is a kind of self-portrait” [p. xiv]. Do you think Jansson modeled Anna on herself? Does this consideration matter?

6. Does Katri have a conscience? How is she able to reconcile the idea that while others are cheating, she is just moving “a piece on the board game of money” [p. 61]? Why do you think the novel allows her to go unpunished for breaking into Anna’s home?

7. The author writes, “Anna began to be aware, in a new and disquieting way, of what she did with her time and what she didn’t do. She began observing her own behavior more and more with every day that passed” [p. 79]. How does living with Katri and Mats change Anna? How does Katri change?

8. Edvard Liljeberg helps and defends Katri and Mats at several points in the novel; he even tells his brother, “That witch…is ten times smarter than you are. And you’re not that much nicer, either” [p. 146]. What does he see in the Klings that the rest of the villagers do not?

9. What is the significance of Mats’s boat? Could it be a symbol of something else?

10. Why does Katri’s dog go mad? Is it Anna’s fault, for causing it to no longer obey Katri? Why does Anna tell Katri, “He isn’t coming back. He wants to get away from you” [p. 170]? Is this unnecessarily cruel?

11. Just before the spring, Anna made her first visit to the woods. Afterwards she “was gripped by a terrible anxiety” [p. 147]. What gives rise to this anxiety? Is Anna experiencing artist’s block? Where does it come from?

12. Was anyone actually cheating Anna? At which point is Katri lying—when she first tells Anna about the people she’s dealt with in business, or at the end of the novel when she says none of her earlier statements were true? If no one was cheating Anna, why does Katri come clean? If Anna was being cheated, why does Katri pretend she wasn’t?

13. At the novel’s end, why doesn’t Anna want to add rabbits to the forest floor anymore?


Judy (jgrussell) | 7 comments Great questions! I have a couple more chapters then I'll jump in. Thanks, Lauren (& NY Review of Books


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