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|The questions that
follow are intended to enhance your group's reading and discussion of
THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS by Meg Waite Clayton.
1. The Wednesday Sisters’ friendships are complex, constantly
evolving, and occasionally downright messy. Yet even as their bonds are
tested and threatened, the group endures and grows stronger. Does this
circle of friends ring true to you? Are Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and
Ally’s relationships with one another similar to your own friendships?
2. Why do you think Frankie finds it so difficult to tell Danny that
she’s writing a book when she has no trouble at all confiding this fact
to her husband’s boss? What other secrets in the novel are kept and
revealed in surprising ways?
3. Why does Kath go so far in trying to win Lee back? Did this surprise
you? Would you, like Kath’s friends, be reluctant to counsel her to
leave her husband?
4. What did you first make of Brett’s white gloves? What do you think
they symbolize, if anything?
5. Linda’s breast cancer and Ally’s fertility issues cause them each to
doubt their femininity, and leave their friends at a loss as to how to
help them. Have you or a friend ever been through a similar crisis. What
has helped you hold onto your sense of self through tough times? How
have your friendships affected this experience?
6. The old abandoned mansion—“a Miss Havisham house,” as Frankie’s
husband, Danny, calls it, after the moldering mansion in Dickens’
Great Expectations—is a haunting presence throughout most of the
novel. What does this house seem to symbolize? Does it mean something
different to each of the Sisters? What do you think is the significance
of its destruction?
7. Published books are mentioned throughout the novel – from The
Great Gatsby to The Bell Jar to To Kill a Mockingbird.
What role do these titles play in THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS? Why do you
think each of the Sisters chose the “model book” she did? What book
might you choose yourself?
8. In THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS, a writing group helps its members grow in
self-awareness and self-confidence. Have you been a part of a group –
perhaps even a reading or writing group – that has had a similar effect?
9. In one memorable scene, the Wednesday Sisters gather in a funeral
parlor and imagine what they can accomplish in their lives that will not
perish with their deaths. Did this make you think about writing in a new
light? What about motherhood?
10. The women’s movement provides an evolving backdrop to lives of the
women in THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS. How did you relate the experiences of
the Wednesday Sisters to events in your own life or in the lives of
women you know who experienced it?
11. THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS make a ritual of watching the Miss America
pageant every year. How do their reactions to the pageant change over
time, and why? How does the pageant itself change?
12. If the Miss America pageant is one recurring motif in the novel, the
space program is another. What similarities and differences do you see
in the way the author uses these two iconic slices of Americana?
13. Brett’s novel, The Mrs. Americas, posits a future in which a
spaceship crewed by women and carrying a cargo of frozen sperm takes off
on a mission to propagate the human race beyond the confines of our
solar system. Why do you think Clayton chose to have Brett write this
14. In addition to exploring the empowerment of women and the prevalence
of sexism, THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS addresses other social issues. In what
ways are race and class raised in the novel?
15. Why do you think Clayton chose to set the book in the era and the
place that she does? How might the story be different if it were set in
the present day? In a major city or a small town, rather than
middleclass suburban Palo Alto?
16. Why do you think the author chose to set the climax of her novel on
the set of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson? How does this
scene compare to the Miss America pageants described throughout the
17. In the accompanying interview, author Meg Waite Clayton says, “If an
author makes me weep, I am theirs—though why so many of us like books
that make us cry puzzles me to no end.” Do you share this sentiment? Why
do you think readers respond to novels that make us cry?