This reading group guide for Lost in Paris 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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When a deed to an apartment in Paris turns up in an old attic trunk, an estranged mother and daughter must reunite to uncover the secret life of a family matriarch—perfect for fans of The Little Paris Bookshop
and The Beekeeper’s Daughter
Hannah Bond has always been a bookworm, which is why she fled Florida—and her unstable alcoholic mother—for a quiet life leading Jane Austen–themed tours through the British countryside. But on New Year’s Eve, everything comes crashing down when she arrives back at her London flat to find her mother, Marla, waiting for her.
Marla’s brought three things with her: the deed to an apartment in Paris, an old key, and newspaper clippings about the death of a famous writer named Andres Armand. Hannah, wary of her mother’s motives, reluctantly agrees to accompany her to Paris where, against all odds, they discover Great-Grandma Ivy’s apartment frozen in 1940 and covered in dust. Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Each chapter consists of Hannah’s modern-day point of view and Ivy’s diary entries written in the early 1900s, alternating between the present and the past. Why do you think the author chose to structure the novel this way?
2. Early on, Hannah refers to her relationship with Marla as a “dysfunctional mother-daughter reality show.” During which points in the novel do we best see examples of their roles being reversed?
3. The story focuses heavily on the relationships between women. Discuss the differences and similarities between Marla and Hannah’s relationship and Ivy and Helen’s friendship.
4. In the apartment, Hannah and Marla discover mysterious clues about Ivy’s life, including a diary detailing evenings of drinking and dancing with Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, and other iconic expats. Why do you think Ivy hid her life in Paris from her granddaughter and great-granddaughter?
5. Can you pinpoint the moment after arriving in Paris when Marla and Hannah begin to mend their relationship?
6. As Hannah talks through her new Paris tour while walking along the Seine with Marla, Marla stops her and says, “Maybe it’s not so much what you say, Hannah, but how you say it.” Can you find other instances when Marla feels this way toward Hannah? Why do you think this comment hits Hannah so hard?
7. In her diary, Ivy discusses the volatile relationship between Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Discuss Zelda’s decision to give up ballet and her belief that Scott stole her work. How do you think the Fitzgeralds’ relationship compares to the other relationships in the book?
8. Hannah’s potential love interests, Aiden and Gabriel, are secondary to the story’s main plot. How do they still drive the plot forward and affect Hannah’s character development?
9. On pages 122–123, Marla and Hannah describe Granny Ivy as “stern and matronly.” In what ways do you think the war and Andres’ death affected and changed her? Do you think she kept the Paris apartment as a way to honor his memory?
10. On pages 128–129, Gabriel says that the Paris apartment is “a city treasure” and that “everyone wants to own a piece of history. Some are willing to pay extra to obtain it.” If you were in Marla and Hannah’s shoes, would you keep the apartment or sell it at a high price?
11. Toward the end of the book, Marla unites Hannah and her birth father. Why do you think the author thought this was important to the plot and to Hannah’s overall story?
13. Why do you think Hannah agrees to give her mother the Paris apartment? Discuss what you think the apartment and gesture mean to Marla.
14. By the end of the novel, Hannah and Marla have gained an apartment in Paris and newfound family. What else—tangible or intangible—have they gained?Enhance Your Book Club
1. Plan your own moveable feast! Make a picnic based on the meal that Aiden prepares for Hannah’s tour: French onion soup, crispy baguette with foie gras, and crème brûlée. Feel free to improvise, making the menu your own.
2. On page 227, Marla shows Hannah a “French phrase-a-day calendar.” Create your own set of French phrases and practice speaking them with your group.
3. While in Paris, Hannah visits the Rodin Museum, the Eiffel Tower, Shakespeare and Company bookstore, and the Seine. Assign each member of your book club one of these famous locations and have each bring a few facts so your group can create its own “virtual” Paris tour.
4. Ivy was a fashion designer in the 1920s. Research fashion icons of the era, including Zelda Fitzgerald and Coco Chanel, and share some of the key trends of the time.
5. On page 115, Hannah questions, “Why didn’t we ask for more details about her life when she was alive?” Reach out to your eldest family matriarch and ask her a set of questions about her past.