Title: The Wednesday Sisters
Author: Meg Waite Clayton
Page Count: 288 pages
Genre: Women’s lives and relationships
Tone: Heartwarming, character-driven
Excerpted summary from publisher:
When five young mothers—Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett—first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of books. Then one evening, as they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant, Linda admits that she aspires to write a novel herself, and the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born.. In the process, they explore the changing world around them: the Vietnam War, the race to the moon, and a women’s movement that challenges everything they believe about themselves. At the same time, the friends carry one another through more personal changes—ones brought about by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
Questions composed by MPPL Staff
1. The first character we meet is Frankie. She’s from Chicago but moves across the country to Palo Alto with her husband and two young children. What kind of person is she? What is it that brings her together with the other women in the park?
2. The next character we meet is Bret. She is unique for wearing white gloves after that style is out of fashion. We don’t find out why she wears them until much later in the book. What did you think about the gloves? Were you surprised by why she wears them?
3. What was the significance of the mansion by the park? What did it represent to the women and to the time period in which they lived? Who was the person they saw walking around in the mansion? Why was she there?
4. Are the friendships realistic? Do they seem similar to some of your own friendships?
5. Why was Frankie able to confess that she was trying to write a novel to Danny’s boss but not Danny?
6. This book takes place in the late ’60s at a time when things were beginning to change more rapidly for women in the United States, yet a lot of the old conventions were still in place. In what ways did that affect the opportunities these women had, both in their personal lives and in their professional lives?
7. Some notable historical events that occurred at this time: moon landing, assassination of Bobby Kennedy, women’s liberation movement, and the Pentagon Papers. Was this time in history particularly significant and/or more fraught with turbulence and change than periods since? In what ways did that affect the characters and their generation?
8. Ally’s husband is Indian and they have trouble having a baby. In what way does that affect her relationships in the group? Does having or not having children not affect the women’s relationships amongst each other?
9. What do the books the sisters read say about them?
10. Frankie wanted to reinvent herself when she got to California. She wanted to be called Mary rather than Frankie. She imagined herself hosting parties and attending parties with her husband’s colleagues. Was she able to reinvent herself? How was her life similar or different to what she imagined?
11. How did Danny’s intelligence and success affect Frankie’s view of herself and their relationship?
12. Danny leaves his stable company to start a new venture in Metal Oxide Semiconductor chips without asking Frankie her opinion. How does this make her feel? Is this lack of communication indicative of the time they lived in or specific to their relationship?
13. What was the significance of the Miss America pageants to the women? Why did they initially get together to watch it? Over the course of the book, how did their feelings change?
14. In chapter 13, the sisters went to the funeral parlor and sat in a coffin. What did that mean to the sisters? (Page 84-85)
15. What do you think of the guidelines for mastectomy, as Linda experienced? Was she powerless in the treatment process?
16. The women are so close to Stanford University and some encourage Frankie to go take classes there but she doesn’t feel like she can. Why not?
17. The Wednesday Sisters have a big schism after they find out that Ally’s husband is Indian. Why did Jim’s being Indian cause such a rift between the sisters?
18. What did you think of the scene on the Johnny Carson show? How did the show mark a changing point in the lives of the sisters?
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