This reading group guide for The Third Wife includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Introduction
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From all appearances, Adrian Wolfe is a successful, happy man. But when the tragic death of his third wife shatters his world, he begins to unearth disturbing clues that things were not necessarily as they seemed. The mystery surrounding his wife’s death exposes some hidden unsettledness within the family system, and casts suspicion on the true cause of her demise. The Third Wife
is a riveting story filled with psychological nuance of how the Wolfe family unravels the truth of their story. Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Describe your first impression of Adrian. How would you describe him?
2. One of the themes of this book is how the family system copes with the various changes and disruptions brought about by each of Adrian’s marriages and remarriages. In what ways do Adrian’s children adjust and react to each of his new wives?
3. Which of Adrian’s children do you relate to the most? Describe.
4. On page 90, the author describes Luke: “He’d always felt there was somewhere else he was supposed to be, other friends he should be hanging out with, some amazing life he was supposed to be living. And now that he was living a different life, the one he’d left behind glittered in his wake like dropped diamonds.” What do you think are some of the causes of Luke’s restlessness?
5. How would you describe Cat’s relationship with Adrian? What was she hungry for in her relationship with him?
6. Compare and contrast Susie and Caroline. What do you think drew Adrian to each of them?
7. In what ways is the “Board of Harmony” ironic?
8. What impact do you think the e-mails had on Maya and her relationship with Adrian?
9. In what ways are Maya and Luke similar? What do you think sparked their connection with each other?
10. What role does Jane/Abby play in the story?
11. On page 276, Pearl describes Adrian as “addicted to being in love.” What kept him in the cycle of addiction? What was the first step he took toward sobriety?
12. What do you think were some of Adrian’s greatest fears? How did they play out in each of his marriages?
13. Do you think Maya’s death was accidental or suicide?
14. What would you describe as the major themes of this story? Would you say it is a redemptive story? Why or why not?
15. Do you think Adrian and Caroline end up together? How would you write the post-epilogue narrative?
16. What do you think prompted the author to write this story? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Read The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce
. Which findings of this 25-year study are reflected in the lives of each of the characters in The Third Wife
2. Watch The Family Stone
and discuss the various roles each character plays in the family system.
3. Write a letter (that you may or may not actually send) to someone in your life (family or friend) who has hurt you but never acknowledged the impact of his or her actions. Discuss what it was like to do this during your next book club.
4. Create categories on a continuum to describe the degrees of “addicted to love.” At your next book club, discuss what keeps people in the cycle of addiction and what are some possible first steps toward sobriety.