“The Patchwork Marriage” by Jane Green

For all you book-club ladies, here’s a chick-lit offering from bestselling author Jane Green, The Patchwork Marriage that ought to give you plenty to chew on and of course, talk about during your next book-club discussion.

The plot of The Patchwork Marriage posits the question; can a happy family be built only on love and commitment alone? That’s the question staring at Andi, who marries middle-aged Ethan, a divorced father of two adolescent daughters. Andi, who cannot bear children of her own, is more than happy to be a devoted mother to her step daughters. That’s not to be, as one of the girls, Emily, has extremely conflicted reactions to Andi despite the latter’s attempts, over years, to reach out to her. The tension between them frequently erupts into emotional dramas and eventually drives a wedge between Andi and Ethan. There’s also Janice, Ethan’s ex-wife, an alcoholic who is incapable of caring for her daughters even on the few days they spend with her every month. Stretched to breaking point, Andi contemplates walking out on her marriage, when Emily drops a bombshell, one that could potentially wreck this already fragile family.

Ideas for book-club discussion questions:

  • The discussion could begin with an overview of The Patchwork Marriage. Is the story one that immediately grips the reader? Or does it take some time to draw one in? Is the plot intriguing and reflective of true life? Or is it mawkish and exaggerated?
  • Characters: Are Andi, Ethan and their children convincingly human or too one-dimensional? Would you like to meet any of them, and if you did, what would you say to him or her?
  • What moves the story forward, plot or characters? (Is the story event-driven or one that unfolds through the inner lives of its characters?)
  • The author tells the story from Emily’s perspective, how does this impact the novel? Discuss her motivations and behaviour. What really is her problem?
  • There’s much you can discuss about the conclusion. Was it satisfactory or did it feel too pat? If you weren’t pleased with the ending, how would you rewrite it?
  • If members have read more chick-lit by Jane Green, compare them with The Patchwork Marriage. How has the author’s style and choice of subjects evolved (or not!) from earlier publications?
  • This is a book about relationships and that most complex emotion of all, love. Did you learn anything new by reading it?

Finally, how about a chat with Jane Green herself? Some authors enjoy discussions with their readers. Contact the publishers of The Patchwork Marriage for a possible phone or Internet chat. Now, that would make for a truly memorable book club discussion!

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