This reading group guide for The Currency of Love includes an introduction and discussion questions. 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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In the 1980s, Jill Dodd determined that her ticket out of an abusive home was to make it as a top model in Paris. Armed with only her desire for freedom and independence, she embarks on an epic journey that takes her to uncharted territory—the Parisian fashion industry with all its beautiful glamour and its ugly underbelly of sex, drugs, and excess. From there, Jill begins an eye-opening adventure that includes trips to Monte Carlo, sexual exploitation, and falling in love with one of the richest men in the world, agreeing to become one of his wives—until she finds the courage to walk away from it all and rebuild her dreams.Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Which scenes in The Currency of Love
were the most memorable for you? Which made you laugh? Did any shock or inspire you?
2. Jill Dodd writes about her first real friendship being a pivotal point in her life, saying Kelly “turn[ed] my weird, isolated life inside out.” Why was this friend so important? Have you ever had a friendship that changed your life? What made it beautiful and how did it alter your path?
3. The author hadn’t considered how tough it would be to live in a foreign country and was totally unprepared. However, she ultimately fell in love with Paris and found it liberating. Why did she feel so free in Paris? Have you ever lived in a new country? Was it liberating or just plain difficult?
4. Were you surprised by the physical and emotional burdens of being a model? Would you be willing to change your appearance for the promise of wealth or fame?
5. When Gerald pushes Jill into unwanted intercourse, she feels confused, helpless, and weak. While filming in Saint-Tropez, she suffers obsessive thoughts, paranoia, and insecurity. How did this reaction hearken back to her childhood? What factors from her formative years impact her later relationships with men?
6. Models are often objectified, such as described in the chapter “Queen Jewelry” when the photographer’s wife says, “Many years ago, when my husband and I began this business, he never looked at the models in that way, you know what I mean? They were only a tool to him, like a prop, a table or a chair.” Jill finds out the introduction to her was purchased—learning that she is an object for sale. Discuss Jill’s reaction to this revelation. How would you have reacted in this situation?
7. In the chapter “California Sucks” the author says, “I don’t want to be owned by [the agency] and I don’t want to be chained to this business. . . . Now I fly under the agency’s radar, in control of my plans. But success will hijack me and run me into the ground.” Jill suddenly wants to get lost in a foreign city. Why does she react this way? Was she afraid to lose her fragile footing, did she want a new life, or was she afraid of being controlled by the agency? Discuss.
8. Jill expresses herself through her clothes. She ultimately feels controlled by Adnan’s desire for her to look polished and sophisticated, wearing couture at his business dinners, and rebels by wearing wild makeup and a sexy pink dress in Vegas. Discuss the idea of suppression and control in limiting clothing choices or forcing a uniform on someone. Are you free to dress the way you want to? Why or why not? What are some of the ways you use clothing or makeup to express yourself?
9. The author thought fame and money would satisfy her. Yet in the chapter “Question Everything” she writes, “Billionaire wealth is a pain in the ass at least half the time. The food is fresh, healthy, and prettier than a flower arrangement. . . . Yet as soon as you acclimatize to all of this, it becomes the new normal and expected . . . And the worst part is that all of this luxury can leave an unhealthy vacuum of space and time, where anxiety and guilt can thrive, creating a cesspool.” How would extreme wealth change your life for the better? What might some of the negative effects be?
10. Early on, Jill sees Adnan as a saint. Why do you think she envisions him so positively? Do you think he deserves that portrayal? Why, or why not?
11. Adnan was simultaneously loyal and disloyal. Describe some of the other seemingly contradictory aspects of his personality or desires. What were some of his strengths and weaknesses? What lessons did Jill learn from Adnan?
12. Hollywood, Paris, and Las Vegas are almost characters themselves, with their own distinct personalities. Which place did you enjoy the most and least? How did the story shift from setting to setting?
13. Would you run away from or be drawn in by someone who could provide for you like Adnan? Have you ever thrown everything away to gain your personal freedom?
14. The desire to be free is universal. Many times throughout the book, Jill expresses her need to be free from entrapment. Why do you think freedom is utterly crucial for her? How do you define freedom
? In what ways are you free or trapped in your own life?
15. Fame and money didn’t satisfy Jill in the way she had hoped. Was spirituality able to fulfill her? Do you think Jill found peace, or just took a small step toward peace?