One Book, One Chicago Spring 2011
Illustration by Jay Ryan
- In the first chapter, before Richard leaves for London from Scotland and months before he meets Door, a woman tells him he has a good heart and that “Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go… But mostly, it’s not.” In what other ways does Neverwhere present the dilemma that kindness and safety are unrelated?
- London Below is made up of people who have fallen through the cracks. As an outsider to London who dislikes drawing attention to himself, does Richard belong in London Below? Is it his meek disposition and sense of displacement that drew him there in the first place?
- Why do you think Richard sees Door on the sidewalk when Jessica does not? Is it indifference to his fiancee and to his life in general that opens him up to Door and her world?
- Why is Door so attached to Richard when he is clearly in over his head? When Mr. Croup asks the marquis de Carabas why she permits the “upworlder” to travel with her, the marquis responds that “it’s sentimentality on her part.” Do you agree?
- Discuss trust among the characters in the novel, particularly in relation to the Angel Islington and the marquis de Carabas. Why does Door implicitly trust de Carabas, and does Richard trust him as well or just go along? As a reader, do you trust the Angel’s intentions early on in the novel?
- Is Hunter’s betrayal out of character for her? Do her actions at the end of her life redeem her?
- Why does the girl who escorts Richard to the Floating Market, Anaesthesia, fail to make it across Night’s Bridge? Hunter says that the bridge is only noises in the dark, and the only harm is done by one’s own fear and imagination. Is it Anaesthesia’s fear that takes her? And why didn’t the same happen to Richard?
- What traits about London Below strike you most? Conversely, how does Gaiman portray London Above? Are both worlds presented with positive and negative aspects? Are they direct opposites of each other?
- Old Bailey talks about how no one lives in the city now, and London Above is presented as somewhat sterile and cold. London Below, on the other hand, is a throwback to less sanitized city living, but is presented in a more attractive way in the end. What about the novel is a commentary on urban life?
- Do you think that despite his original fear and reluctance, Richard comes to enjoy himself in London Below? If so, when?
- When Richard has to undergo “The Ordeal” at the Black Friars’ it’s suggested that he’s been imagining all of London Below after a nervous breakdown of some kind in the “real” world. Do you think it’s possible that London Below is only a product of Richard’s imagination?
- At the end of the book, why does Richard choose to return to London Below? Does his newfound position as a hero in London Below make him more or less vulnerable?