Book Clubs: Asking Questions to Deepen Understanding

When I decided to offer fifteen copies of Iron Lace (along with a king cake and phone interview) to raise money for diabetes research, I made my decision with the full knowledge that Iron Lace is one of my most popular novels for book discussion groups.

Later I went back to my own website to see just what kind of questions I had already suggested on my website for readers to consider as they read the book.

First, did you know that every one of the novels listed on my website’s book page has reader questions available?  That’s right.  I love the idea of people considering different aspects of my books when they think about them later or discuss them.  So I create questions to get readers started.

Here are the questions I developed for Iron Lace:

  1. African-American journalist Phillip Benedict wonders why white society matriarch Aurore Gerritsen has chosen him to write her memoirs.  After all, it’s 1965 and Louisiana is, for the most part, still segregated.  As Aurore’s story unfolds, at what point did you begin to suspect her reason for choosing Phillip?
  2. South Louisiana has a rich heritage, made richer by traditions and cultures of a diversity of ethnic and racial groups.  Did you come to appreciate the difference between Creoles and Cajuns and the cultural importance of African-Americans in Louisiana history?
  3. Racism was and still is a fact of life worldwide.  Did the struggle of the characters of all backgrounds seem real to you?
  4. Aurore and Rafe are star-crossed lovers.  What decisions did each of them make that doomed their love?  What decision did each make that enriched it?
  5. Aurore and Henry Gerritsen’s marriage was not made in heaven.  Considering the times they lived in and the culture surrounding them, was it believable to you that Aurore would stay with Henry, even when she realized the mistake she had made?  Was the marriage payback for her own need for revenge?
  6. Despite their many flaws, did you find Aurore and Rafe sympathetic?  Or did you feel they had sealed their own fates by the mistakes they made?

Do you like having questions provided?  Does it help you think more clearly or deeply about the story you’ve read?

If you think your book group might like to explore the questions in Iron Lace, then bid now while you can to win the books and king cake and help support finding a cure for diabetes at the same time.

While you’re thinking about it, why not check my other discussion questions, too.  You’ll also find I add a recipe from each book, a short overview of the story, and my inspiration for each one, just to make reading more fun.

You’ll find all this on my Books page at my website.


  1. Janet Warren on May 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I don’t belong to a book club and I own all of your books, but yes, I do like to contemplate the questions at the end.

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