Book Club Discussion Questions:  Bringing Down the Colonel

  1. Did the book change the way you think about women and sexual respectability?
  2. Do you think Madeline Pollard was right to put her “shame” on display for the world to see or should she have walked away?
  3. Do you think Madeline Pollard was being truthful in her testimony? How much does absolute truth matter in this case?
  4. What does the book reveal about Victorian society that surprised you? How did Madeline Pollard reveal society’s hidden secrets?
  5. Do you think the Breckinridge-Pollard trial changed society? For better or for worse?
  6. What character did you relate to the most?
  7. Do you think Jennie was accurate in her impressions of Madeline or was she swayed by what she believed was her friendship with the Breckinridge family?
  8. Did Breckinridge ultimately help or hurt the career ambitions of his daughter Nisba?
  9. What was the most memorable part of the book for you?
  10. How is late Gilded Age America like the America of today politically, socially, and economically? What about the scandal and its repercussions seems familiar today?