The following are book club questions we’ll use to kickstart discussions for each of the books we’re talking up in upcoming book club meetups!

The Summer I Met Jack (July 25, 2019)

  • Jewelry plays a symbolic role in The Summer I Met Jack: Alicia’s father’s watch, the necklace Jack gives her, and her engagement ring. What do each of these things represent to Alicia, both individually and taken as a whole?
  • From the beginning, Alicia has a taste for fine clothes and especially fur, even when she can’t afford to dress herself this way. Why? Do you think this speaks more to her early, privileged years, or what she lacked while in the convent and at the camp? Or are her predilections more aspirational in nature? Her vision of “The American Dream”?
  • What might’ve happened to Alicia if she wasn’t so prone to “moving on”? Imagine Alicia in 1970, at age forty. Imagine her in 1985, at fifty-five. How would these versions of Alicia look if she stayed in Hyannis? What about if she stayed in Hollywood?
  • Who did Alicia love most in her lifetime? Jack? Her father? Someone else?
  • Although The Summer I Met Jack is a novel, it is rooted in fact. Did this book at all change your opinion about the Kennedys?
  • Knowing that Jack did have a relationship with Alicia 1951, and, according to the FBI, she was a continued threat ten years later, do you think the author portrayed a realistic version of the significance of their relationship?
  • How might history have been different if Jack had married Alicia? Do you think he would still have been elected President?
  • If Irenka had not told the Kennedys that Alica was a Jew, do you think they would have discovered it on their own? What motivated Irenka to hurt Alicia?
  • Do you believe that Jacqueline Kennedy knew about Alicia and her husband? What about his other mistresses?
  • If Joe Jr. had survived, would he have become President instead of Jack? What would Jack have done for a living?
  • Did Alicia really have Jack Kennedy’s child, or do you think the child truly belonged to Novella?

The Beautiful Strangers (August 20, 2019)

  • The book begins in the year 1892 where we learn a woman is in a nightmare marriage and is willing to do anything to break from it. What did you think about the beginning? How did it set the stage for what was to come?
  • We then meet Kate Morgan in San Francisco in 1958 who feels suffocated working at the family restaurant—she aspires for so much more. Can you relate to feeling like that—wanting to rise above expectations?
  • Kate’s grandfather who is suffering from dementia tells her once again to find the beautiful stranger. Why did Kate finally decide to go to find her?
  • What did you think about the dual narrative of Kate Morgan the ghost and Kate in the ’50s? What stuck out to you the most about reading the story in that style?
  • Kate has rose-colored glasses view of Hollywood, which quickly diminishes a bit when she gets her luggage stolen in LA. When did Kate start to see that the Hollywood of her dreams is more of a fantasy? Let’s talk about the perception of Hollywood vs. the reality.
  • Still, there’s plenty of vivid details of the movie-making process and Kate interacts with some of the actors, including Marilyn Monroe. Why do you think Marilyn opened up to Kate? Do you think Marilyn saw a bit of the old her (Norma Jean) in Kate?
  • Kate gets to know Marilyn beyond the facade of her movie star persona. What did Kate learn from their interactions? Did you pick up anything about Marilyn’s life that you didn’t already know?
  • On the last meeting, Marilyn tells Kate: “take love where you can get it.” What did she mean by that? What does that mean to you?
  • Through both the past and present, we learn about the tragic love story between Kate’s grandfather and Mary Carter. Do you think her grandfather ever got over the loss and leaving Coronado behind?
  • Let’s discuss the romance between Sean and Kate. What did you think about their love story? When do you think they really started to fall for each other? Why were both so drawn to Coronado and the hotel?
  • Kate grows quite a bit from the beginning of the book to the end. What are some of the ways that Kate is somewhat modern and ahead of her time?
  • The mystery of the beautiful stranger is eventually revealed—it’s the ghost Kate Morgan. And we learn why Kate’s grandfather was so persistent that she find out about the beautiful stranger: his birth mothers’ family left a trust for George. Kate believes her grandfather found out the information after he started suffering from memory loss, so that’s why didn’t retrieve the money. He could only hold onto memory fragments and give Kate clues. Let’s discuss all of this—did anything surprise you about the reveal of the mystery as well as the trust fund?
  • To touch on the supernatural aspect a bit, why do you think the ghost Kate had to remain haunting the hotel? Do you believe in ghosts?
  • The ghost Kate is the beautiful stranger but we learn that Marilyn is also a beautiful stranger. Why was Marilyn a beautiful stranger, too? What did you about the ending overall?
  • Have you seen Some Like it Hot?
  • Have you been to the Hotel del Coronado?