Latest Book Summary & Questions

In March, we read an Italian mystery called The Shape of Water.

The majority of the book club discussion occurs in our online book club where we post 2-3 questions a day for almost a week at the end of the month. However, we also welcome discussion online here.

For reference, we've included a summary of the book below as well as all of the questions used for discussion. Beth & Mia alternate the choice of country & write up of the book summary. They each contribute approximately half of the discussion questions.

BOOK SUMMARY (From Mia)

Silvio Luparello dies of a heart attack while having sex with Giorgio (his nephew) at one of his houses he used to conduct affairs. Giorgio wants to protect his uncle’s (& lover’s) good name in the community. He enlists Rizzo to help him since Giorgio has epilepsy & cannot pull it off by himself. Instead of helping Giorgio, Rizzo uses Luparello’s death as an opportunity to gain political power & becomes the assistant to Dr. Cardamone following his election. Rizzo then attempts to frame Ingrid as Luparello’s lover (easy to do given her history) implicating her in his death. He plants evidence against Ingrid (an expensive necklace & her purse) at the Pasture (the murder site) along with Luparello’s body in a BMW with his pants open. Inspector Montalbano initially suspects Ingrid because of her close (but platonic) relationship with Luparello, but then with his excellent detective skills, finds out she is being framed. Being such an honest man, Inspector Montalbano then destroys all the false evidence against Ingrid & makes sure that Rizzo pays Saro a reward for finding the necklace. This all comes to a close with Montalbano “playing God” (as Livia says) by ignoring a gun he finds at Luparello’s secret affair house. This gives Giorgio the opportunity to get back at Rizzo for betraying his uncle & lover (Luparello) and he murders Rizzo. Sadly, Giorgio also dies in the end in a car accident.

  • (Dr.) Angelo Cardamone: New provincial secretary, elected after Luparello’s death. Belongs to the Communist party & was an adversary of Luparello. 
  • Giacomo Cardamone: Son of Dr Cardamone . Spoiled rich kid, married to Ingrid Sjostrom who is his second wife.
  • (Corporal) Anna Ferrara: Daughter of Inspector Montalbano's old school friend. Always trying to seduce Montalbano.
  • Giorgio: A young man, tall, blond, tan & described as an "angel". Epileptic nephew of Signora Luparello who lives with the Luparellos & was especially attached to Silvio. He was with Silvio Luparello at the “affair”  house when he died in the “act”. Very distraught by Luparello’s death.
  • Gege Gullotta: Old school friend of Montalbano, now a pimp & drug dealer at the Pasture.
  • Livia: Montalbano’s long distance love interest.
  • (Signora) Luparello: Silvio’s wife. She is aware of all his activities such as having affairs with women & men. Helped Inspector Montalbano solve the mystery by sharing key information with him about her late husband. She also tells him the little story about the "shape of water".
  • Silvio Luparello: The dead man found in the car at the Pasture. Engineer, developer & aspiring politician. Has a very good public image which was tarnished by the circumstances in which he was found.
  • Stefano Luparello: The deceased’s son.
  • (Inspector) Salvo Montalbano: The main character. A police investigator.
  • Pino: Garbage collector & amateur actor in the theater. He discovered the car with Luparello’s dead body inside.
  • (Counselor) Pietro Rizzo: Silvio Luparello’s best friend, attorney & right hand man, possibly a liaison between Luparello & the Mafia. After Luparello’s death, became the assistant to Dr. Cardamone.
  • Saro: Garbage collector who found the enormous heart shaped, diamond studded necklace at the Pasture. Has a wife & a sick child who needs expensive medical treatment out of town.
  • Ingrid Sjostrom: Beautiful Swedish race car driver that married Giacomo Cardamone. Sleeps with everyone, including her father-in-law, Dr Cardamone. She has a very close platonic relationship with Silvio Luparello. He allows her to use his secret house to have sexual encounters with Dr Cardamone (her father-in-law).
  • Nicolo Zito: Communist friend of Inspector Montalbano. Works at the free tv station, has valuable information to help Inspector Montalbano to solve the mystery.                          

Book Club Questions

  1. Mia: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), did you like this book—why or why not? 
  2. Mia: What motivates some of the character’s actions? Do you think their actions are justified or ethical?
  3. Beth: Off the top of your head, do you recall what the shape of water is as noted in the novel? Do you think this was a pivotal scene & makes sense to use as the book title?
  4. Beth: Did the story, writing style or detective remind you of any other fiction?
  5. Beth: When did you figure out who the "killer" was & what actually happened? Do you think there were too many/not enough clues?
  6. Beth: This book is often described as "light". Did you find it so? If so, how?
  7. Mia: In what ways, does The Shape of Water make a statement on the nature of honesty and truth?
  8. Mia: The sharpest insights come from Luparello’s widow, not Montalbano. Ingrid also proves to be a strong character. What characteristics in these women might the author see as admirable?
  9. Mia: Livia tells Montalbano that he has promoted himself from inspector to a fourth-rate god. What does she mean by this? Do you think he conducted himself correctly in the investigation?
  10. Mia: Montalbano works with informants who are active criminals, while some he considers friends such as Gege. How did this make you feel about the Inspector? Did it change your view of him for better or worse?
  11. Beth: Did you find the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, what would you change?
  12. Beth: Did The Shape of Water feel Italian to you or read in a way that made you feel as if you know Italy/Sicily better?