Bestselling author of The Guest List, Lucy Foley brings her signature style of classic mystery and social commentary to this riveting tale of a woman on the hunt for her missing brother, only to uncover secrets and lies along the way that few would have fathomed.
Set against the backdrop of Parisian glamour and intrigue, this discussion guide consisting of some amazing book club questions for The Paris Apartment will help you delve deeper into the themes and characters of the novel, and provide a platform for some insightful discussions with your fellow bibliophiles.
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The Paris Apartment Book Club Questions
- The use of multiple perspectives in the novel creates a complex and layered portrayal of the characters and their motivations. By allowing each character to have their own chapter, the reader gains insight into their thoughts and actions, which often contradict their outward behavior. This technique also creates a sense of suspense, as many chapters end on cliffhangers, and the reader must wait several chapters to discover the resolution.
What’s your take on this kind of multi-perspective approach?
- The secrets and hidden pasts of the characters suggest that they are all connected in ways that are not immediately apparent. Each character has something to hide, and these secrets drive their actions and decisions throughout the novel. The characters’ pasts also suggest that they are haunted by their mistakes and regrets, and this contributes to the overall sense of unease and tension in the story.
Among the many secrets brought out in the open in different parts of the novel, which one surprised you the most and why?
- The Parisian apartment building is imbibed with multiple secrets, and the characters are trapped within its walls, unable to escape their own pasts and mysteries surrounding Ben’s disappearance. This setting serves to highlight the class divisions and power dynamics at play within the building, as Jess is constantly reminded of her outsider status and the residents’ desire to maintain their own privilege and control.
Discuss how this building serves as a claustrophobic and oppressive setting, eventually contributing to the atmosphere and tension of the story.
- Themes of secrecy, power, and identity emerge in the novel, as the characters struggle to maintain their own secrets and control while grappling with the consequences of their past actions. The novel also explores the idea of perception and how it can be manipulated, as the characters are constantly hiding their true selves and presenting a façade to the outside world.
What’s your take on the way Lucy Foley decided to embrace these themes in this suspenseful and intricately plotted mystery? Also, discuss how the novel explores the complexities of human nature and the hidden motivations that drive our actions.
- The novel suggests that corruption is often hidden from an average person’s viewpoint and that those who seek to expose it are often risking their own lives. Ben’s investigation into Jacques’s business leads to his own attack and near-death, while Irina’s attempts to expose the truth of the operation puts her in danger as well.
What do you think Foley is trying to convey about power and corruption in her novel?
- Nick’s past attraction to Ben is a testament to his anxiety around Ben’s presence. Sophie’s troubled past as a victim of trafficking makes her suspicious of newcomers and unable to form genuine relationships with her stepchildren. Also, Mimi’s struggles with her sexuality and her father’s infantilization shape her emotional instability and obsessive passions.
Discuss the way these complex backstories of different characters shape their actions and motivations in the novel.
- The novel explores the theme of family and belonging through the Meunier family’s relationships and interactions with one another. While the family is wealthy and powerful, they are ultimately dysfunctional and estranged from one another. Sophie’s relationship with Mimi is the only one that seems genuine and loving, despite the fact that they are not biologically related.
Based on Sophie’s relationship with Mimi, do you agree that family is not always defined by blood ties but by mutual love and support?
- Which of these traits of Jess did you like the most?
– her ability to be street-smart which enables her to read people and balance trust against suspicion.
– her ability to trust herself, particularly when she deduced that there is Nick has a good nature in spite of him hiding something
– her deducing abilities where she understands that people are multilayered and capable of both aiding her and destroying her.
- Sophie’s struggle to control her instincts highlights the consequences of suppressing one’s true nature. Sophie is more confident than others, but she has repressed her survival instincts to maintain her veneer of respectability. She feels shame over her past, and this motivates her to build emotional barriers between herself and her children. Her affair with Ben brings her happiness because, within this affair, Sophie operates only on instinct and can drop all pretenses.
Do you think such a kind of relationship was necessary because it was through this only thing only where Sophie was able to regain control over her body and happiness?
- Jess’s traumatic childhood experience of finding her mother dead due to her own ignorance eventually leads her to do the opposite i.e. trusting herself, during the later part of her life. This experience led her to a deep-seated fear of ignoring her guts and the consequences that followed. Had such a thing not happened, Jess would never have trusted her ability to deduce what her brain comprehended, and it would have been extremely difficult to counter the exploitative people in the foster care system.
Discuss how certain events in our lives change us for the good, as in the case of Jess.
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