Last Night at the Blue Angel
by Rebecca Rotert
(Discussion questions provided by the publisher)
1) The narrative alternates between the perspectives of Sophia and Naomi. How does
hearing the story from both of their points of view affect your understanding of it?
2) How does your impression of Naomi develop as the novel progresses? Are there
scenes that provoke a particularly strong reaction?
3) Naomi is a singer in a jazz club and a portion of the story focuses on her life as a
performer. Do you think there are other “perfomances” in the book? Can you
identify the ways in which other characters might be “performing,” and how these
performances might shape their lives and experiences?
4) In a sense, Sophia has many “parents” in the book. Describe how each parent
informs how she sees herself and the world around her.
5) Which thematic elements rear their heads during Sophia’s birthday party? Why is
it such a pivotal scene in the novel?
6) All of the main characters in the novel live in Chicago but come from somewhere
else. What do you suppose “Chicago” represents to these characters? What has
each character attempted to leave behind?
7) In many ways, music is a character in the novel. Identify a few scenes where this
is true and describe the roll music plays.
8) How does Naomi’s relationship with David ignite both her need to be desired and
her fear of being possessed? Does this struggle resonate with women today? And
why, in the end, do Naomi and David not survive as a couple?
9) On p. 165 Rita confronts Naomi and says, “Aren’t you just the most normal girl
now, pining over her man. Ambition? What ambition?” How does this
conversation capture the conflict between pursuing a personal ambition and the
cultural expectations of women?
10)Jim’s commitment to Naomi and Sophia is unflinching. Describe this
commitment. Is it more about Naomi or Sophia, and does it evolve over time?
11) The two central subjects of Jim’s work as a photographer are the architecture of
Chicago and Naomi. Why these two obsessions? How might they be related?
12) Sister Eye plays a pivotal role in the lives of these characters. What are the
beliefs/ideas at the heart of her behavior?
13) Chicago, 1965, is a city in transformation, rife with the tensions of the day—the
Cold War, Vietnam, sexual and racial prejudice. How does this political and
social climate affect the characters?
There is a list of the songs Naomi may have sung and inspired her. I have made a spotify playlist of these and it was quite enjoyable listening to them as I read the book.