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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Flaming Corsage

1.If you came to The Flaming Corsage with prior knowledge of characters like Edward, Katrina, and Emmett (based on your readings of earlier Kennedy novels) did you find yourself using that knowledge in this reading? If you came to The Flaming Corsage without prior knowledge of characters like Edward, Katrina, and Emmett, did you consider them to be sufficiently developed in this novel?

2. Albany as venue has by now become indelibly associated with Kennedy. What various components and aspects of the city between 1884 and 1912 (and of America itself) are significant in The Flaming Corsage?

3. How important is Edward Daugherty's Irish ancestry to The Flaming Corsage? How important is the historical information about Ireland, especially the information delivered through Edward's "manifesto," to the novel?

4. Discuss the principal traits of each of the main characters, and discuss whether they remain static or become dynamic (that is, change in a significant, essential way) in the novel; if they do change, discuss the reasons why.

5. Consider any or all of the following as broad topics that may lead you, as you think about the specifics of The Flaming Corsage, to a recognition of possible themes of the novel: the collision of social classes and religious worlds; the place of the immigrant in established American society; the optimism of passionate, romantic love; the fragility of the human mind; the effects of guilt; the effects of loss.

6.Another virtual Kennedy trademark is the presence of rollicking fun during certain situations that have the trappings of disaster. Is this technique old-fashioned "comic relief"? Or is there a more significant reason for this infusion of humor?  

The Flaming Corsage
by William Kennedy

  • Publication Date: April 1, 1997
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0140242708
  • ISBN-13: 9780140242706