The Professors’ Wives’ Club
Topics for Book Clubs

  • Who was your favorite of the four main characters, and why?
  • The author tells the story through alternating points of view. Did this affect your reading of the story?
  • Jack Havemeyer is an ambitious dean and a mean and sometimes violent husband. If you were in Mary Havemeyer’s position, how would you have dealt with Jack? Can you understand why she stayed in their marriage so long?
  • Look again at chapter six and compare Mary, the fearless and confident teacher, with Mary at home, frightened and silenced by her husband. Do you see her as a strong or a weak woman? Is it possible to be both?
  • Hannah has a one-night stand with her professor, Patrick, even though she’s married to Michael. What is it about Hannah and Patrick’s personalities that draw them together?
  • Why do you think Hannah married Michael? She talks about her loneliness, her love of his parents, and how he was different from men she met in the fashion world. Do you think the way she treats Michael in the end is selfish or for the best?
  • Do you think it is hard for beautiful women – particularly models like Hannah – to be taken seriously?
  • Sofia gave up a fast-paced and exciting career to be a stay-at-home mother. What are her reasons for doing this, and do you think you would have done the same in her position?
  • Sofia gave birth watching a Terminator movie. Why do you think this movie helped Sofia? What does it say about Sofia’s personality?
  • After the birth of a baby, relationships can often be fraught, given the lack of sleep, new responsibility, recovery period, and sometimes postpartum depression or baby blues. Tom seems to be a loving, fun, and loyal husband. Nevertheless, after the birth of Edgar, Sofia starts having suspicions about him. Is this a realistic depiction of the insecurities women face after they’ve given birth? And can you think of instances where you’ve seen similar behavior?
  • Ashleigh has been living with her girlfriend, Sam, for some time, but still hasn’t told her parents. What do you think about the way Ashleigh handles her girlfriend and her parents in the novel? How difficult do you think it would be for someone like Ashleigh to come out to parents like Chad and Thelma Rocksbury?
  • Coming to understand and appreciate her cousin Gina is an important transitional moment in Ashleigh’s story. Why?
  • The faculty garden is central to the novel’s plot. Why and how does it become so important to the four women? Why do you think they fight so hard to save it?
  • How did the author use setting, and in particular, the garden, to reflect the moods of the characters and the tensions in the plot?
  • Jack wasn’t always a ruthless and ambitious man. Mary observes that his anger started after the death of his father. Why do you think his father’s death changed him in this way? Has grief dramatically changed anyone you know?
  • What would the story look like if it were told from Jack’s point of view?
  • The tone of The Professors’ Wives’ Club is generally light and upbeat. However, there are a number of poignant scenes, and the novel deals with some serious issues, such as domestic violence. Did this mix of light and more emotionally intense moments and themes work for you? Did any scene or issue touch you? Did it resonate with your own life?
  • What did you make of the Edgar Allan Poe subplot? Did it add something unique or interesting to the novel? What did you learn about Poe and his poem “The Raven”?
  • The importance and power of female friendships is a central theme of the novel. Relationships between women frequently get a bad rap in popular culture. Women are often portrayed in film, TV, and books as bitchy, competitive, and at odds with one another. However, The Professors’ Wives’ Club paints a very positive picture of women supporting and enjoying and enabling one another to stand up for their lives, their dreams, and their dignity. Is this realistic?
  • How do you think novel compares to other books, TV shows, and other movies that deal with female friendships (such as Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Steel Magnolias, The Friday Night Knitting Club)? Does it do anything new or different?