Book club questions for Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan covers all the key topics in this lighthearted read. There will be spoilers so for more more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit! I liked how it was kind of quiet and just a fun, easy read. It’s a nice break from the more intense ones that I’ve personally read lately. Plus, Sex and Vanity is already being adapted into a movie. Excited for that!
On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Casa Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases.
The daughter of an American-born Chinese mother and a blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.
Book Club Questions for Sex and Vanity
- What were your first impressions of Lucie? Did that change at all as the story went on?
- Let’s talk about the Capri setting at the beginning! What did you think about all the wedding details?
- Why do you think Lucie was so annoyed at George in the beginning? Were you surprised he kept pursuing her?
- What was the key factor that caused Lucie to give in to her temptations with George?
- Charlotte walks in on Lucie and George getting intimate, which is also being filmed by a drone. Let’s talk about Charlotte’s reaction, why do you think she thought Lucie was “ruined” by the experience?
- On page 141, Charlotte says to Lucie, “On some level, I understand it. After all, he is Chinese…you’ve always been caught by the two cultures. No matter how or where you’ve been brought up, you would be predisposed toward someone like him.” Lucie considers this one of the most hurtful, sensitive things that Charlotte has ever said to her. Let’s talk about this.
- Why do you think Lucie seemed to embrace her white side more than her Asian side? How did the treatment and racism she faced from her dad’s side play into this?
- Flash forward to 2018 and Lucie is engaged to Cecil, a very wealthy and eccentric guy. What did you think about Cecil? Why did Lucie choose to be with someone like that?
- Let’s talk about the moment when Lucie and George are reunited again.
- When Lucie was a child, she witnesses her father have a fatal heart attack and she pushed that memory aside. It’s not until George notices one of her paintings is full of grief, which represents her father, that it all comes back to Lucie. How did this impact Lucie going forward?
- Lucie tries to ignore her attraction to George but she can’t. She eventually does break up with Cecil. But why do you think she was still so resistant to George?
- Charlotte changed a lot from the start of the novel. What caused Charlotte to have a different opinion of George?
- Lucie take some cruel actions, including trying to stop George’s mother Rosemary from moving into the same apartment as her mother. What did you think about that scene? Was she forgiven too easily?
- Rosemary says to Lucie on page 305, “You’ve been deluded into being racist toward yourself.” She then explains that Lucie’s mother wanted her to have a close relationship with the Churchill side so she could still have a close link to her father. Let’s talk about these revelations.
- Lucie finally gives into to her feelings for George and they move to Capri. Were you satisfied by the happy ending or did you want more from it?
- If you read the Crazy Rich Asians series, how did this book compare to those?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Sex and Vanity! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Beach Read by Emily Henry is a great one to read this summer!
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore is such a charming story that serves as a perfect distraction read.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.