Discussion and Reading Guide

Questions for Readers, Reading Groups, and Librarians

PDF of the Reading Guide and Discussion Questions for CITY OF GHOSTS

  1. One of the plot treads in CITY OF GHOSTS involves the looting of art during World War II. How familiar were you with this history before you read the book?

  2. Kelli’s titles always have an intrinsic relationship to the themes of her novels. What or who are the ghosts of CITY OF GHOSTS? Can you recall the kinds of “ghosts” mentioned in the novel, and what each of them signified?

  3. Miranda has a notable discussion about the cultural significance of art while on the City of San Francisco streamliner … do you think art belongs to the world, a country, a culture, or an individual? What happens when the interests conflict?

  4. CITY OF GHOSTS reveals certain facts about Catherine Corbie, Miranda’s mother. Were you surprised? Were you surprised by any of the personal developments in the novel?

  5. The non-fiction book The Monuments Men was one of Kelli’s sources for CITY OF GHOSTS. Why do you think people give their lives to protect art as a cultural heritage? Is there something from your country you would similarly defend?

  6. The Miranda Corbie novels are built upon a five-act structure. Each of the acts in CITY OF GHOSTS is named and accompanied by a quote from William Shakespeare. What do you think each of the act titles represent? How do the quotes foreshadow the events and themes of the novel?

  7. “Degenerate” art is another plot point and motif of the book. How familiar were you with the Nazi’s attempt to censure and destroy modern art and literature?

  8. Music plays a crucial role in Kelli’s work, sometimes functioning as a Greek chorus. When does it amplify Miranda’s thoughts? When does it contrast? How does it enhance the reader’s experience?

  9. As in previous Miranda Corbie novels, real people populate CITY OF GHOSTS, including Fritz Wiedemann, the German consul general. Had you heard of him before? Could you tell which characters were historical and which were fictional?

  10. CITY OF DRAGONS, CITY OF SECRETS and CITY OF GHOSTS form a trilogy. What does the city of San Francisco represent? How does it come alive as a character? How does Miranda change through these three novels, and what do you see in her future?