For Book Groups: The Last Government Girl Discussion Questions

The Last Government Girl, a mystery set in 1944 Washington, DC, makes a great book club selection.

Here are some discussion questions:
1.Why is leaving home so important to Eddie? How does her mother’s mental illness affect her?

2.What drew Rachel and Eddie to each other? Eddie says that beneath their exteriors she and Rachel are alike. What does she mean?

3.World War II brought great change to American society. How does the war change life for Eddie? At what point does Eddie realize that she does not want the traditional role as wife and mother?

4.Why is Eddie destined to be unhappy with her work in peacetime?

5. There are always those who take advantage of scarcity in time of war. Who does this in The Last Government Girl, and how?

6. World War II left millions dead and brought great devastation to parts of the world. Yet Jess says that the war opened up opportunities. What does he mean? Which characters benefit from the war? How?

7.How does Pearl change Eddie and Rachel’s friendship? Is Pearl a sympathetic character? Why, or why not?

8.Alton Ballou casts a shadow over Eddie. What does the bootlegger represent to her?

9.What traits does Eddie see in herself that would make her a good detective?

10.How do Jim Crow laws affect Jess and Alonso?

11.What is “the secret city”? What do cardboard stars in the windows of houses signify?

12.Why is Bert classified 4-F?

13.What types of shortages and rationing are mentioned in the book?

14.How are Eddie and Bert alike? Why is Eddie so certain of Bert’s innocence?

15.How did Jess lose his arm? How did this draw him and Alonso together?

16.Alonso plays many roles. What are they?

17.Why does Eddie resent the field of psychiatry?

18.What does the reader learn about Jess and Alonso’s previous history as detectives?

19.What is the “mulatto club”?

20.In what context are the “morality police” mentioned? Who are they?

21.Washington is a city of uniforms. In addition to military men, who wears uniforms?

22.What do you think happened to Rachel?

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