Since I wrote The Paris Effect with my own book group, “Food for Thought,” in mind, I asked some of the members to help me put together this Reading Group Guide: 

  1. At the beginning of the book, Amy is trying to lose twenty pounds. But in fact she has been fighting extra weight since she was a teenager, and numerous “rules for the perpetual diet” constantly run through her brain. Are Amy’s rules a useful tool for her, or a neurosis? In general, do you think life rules of this sort are helpful or hurtful? Do you have any rules?
  2. Amy has an obsessive love/hate relationship with eating. She thinks about it 24/7 and even describes her world in terms of food (pear-yellow sun, meringue-white clouds). Do you think Amy has an actual eating disorder? Or is she just uncommonly passionate about food?
  3. Amy, after some resistance, leaves her hometown of Phoenix and takes off for Paris without telling anyone. Have you ever wanted to just chuck it all and “run away from home”? Was running away a smart move for Amy? Can it ever be a smart move for anyone?
  4. William, Amy’s husband, is a steady decent guy with a good job. Some people might think he is perfect husband material. But do you think William was a good choice of husband for Amy? For that matter, do you think William is less perfect than he seems?
  5. Why do you think Kat betrayed Amy by coming on to William? Do you think Kat was a truly good friend to Amy?
  6. Did any parts of the book offend you or make you feel uncomfortable? For example, Amy rants quite a lot about fat and fat people, especially in the early part of the book. Do you feel this is at all justified? Do you think Rose knows about Amy’s attitudes?
  7. Did you have a favorite scene? Is there one thing in the story that was new to you, or that sticks with you? Who was your favorite character?
  8. Margaret, Kat, and Rose all told Amy they thought she wasn’t a good fit or happy with William, but Amy didn’t really “hear it.” Why not? Have you ever not listened when multiple people have shared the same bit of wisdom?
  9. Amy is a person who kept much to herself. How did that help her? How did it hurt her?
  10. The women in this book are far more influential than the men. Amy’s mind is filled with the insistent voices of Kat and of her mother; she is led and advised, in very different ways, by Margaret and Rose. Why do you think the women in this book are so powerful? Are women in general more of a force in an average person’s emotional growth than men are?
  11. Amy takes a pregnancy test in the beginning of the book (it is negative) and again halfway through the book (the results were inconclusive). In the end Margaret is convinced Amy is pregnant, Rose seems to have suspicions, and Amy is convinced she is not. What do you think?
  12. On the last page of the book, Amy impulsively returns to France. Were you surprised/satisfied/irritated? What do you think happens next? If you were going to write a sequel to The Paris Effect, what would you make happen?
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