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Book club questions for Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr takes a closer look at this compelling novel about art, sex and scandal. There will be spoilers so for more context about the story, check out my spoiler-free review first.
I loved this novel and I was sad to finish it! I would totally read about more adventures with Jules. The story is so engaging and I learned so much—it made me want to do more research regarding paintings stolen by the Nazis.
Jules is an engaging protagonist and Margaux is an interesting antagonist. The romance between Jules and Adam is great too. I can’t wait for the movie version!
After talking her way into a job with Dan Mansfield, the leading investigative reporter in Chicago, rising young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusual—and very secret—assignment. Dan needs her to locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years earlier: legendary Expressionist artist Ernst Engel’s most famous work, Woman on Fire. World-renowned shoe designer Ellis Baum wants this portrait of a beautiful, mysterious woman for deeply personal reasons, and has enlisted Dan’s help to find it. But Jules doesn’t have much time; the famous designer is dying.
Meanwhile, in Europe, provocative and powerful Margaux de Laurent also searches for the painting. Heir to her art collector family’s millions, Margaux is a cunning gallerist who gets everything she wants. The only thing standing in her way is Jules. Yet the passionate and determined Jules has unexpected resources of her own, including Adam Baum, Ellis’s grandson. A recovering addict and brilliant artist in his own right, Adam was once in Margaux’s clutches. He knows how ruthless she is, and he’ll do anything to help Jules locate the painting before Margaux gets to it first.
A thrilling tale of secrets, love, and sacrifice that illuminates the destructive cruelty of war and greed and the triumphant power of beauty and love, Woman on Fire tells the story of a remarkable woman and an exquisite work of art that burns bright, moving through hands, hearts, and history.
Book Club Questions for Woman on Fire
- Why was journalism the right career path for Jules? Why was it so important for her to work with Dan?
- In what ways were Jules and Dan similar? Where did they differ on?
- Ellis is suffering from a terminal illness—let’s talk about why it was important for him to find the painting of his mother before his death. Why do think he didn’t try to find it sooner?
- On the same note, why did he conceal the truth of his past for so long?
- Did you know much about how Nazis stole art prior to reading this novel?
- Margaux is complex. On one hand she has such love for her grandfather but then she’s also a ruthless killer—what is your impression of her as an antagonist?
- Dan is very clear that he is the leader and to follow his direction but Jules takes matters in her own hands and as a result, exposes Dan. Were you surprised with Margaux murdered Dan?
- Let’s talk about the romance between Jules and Adam. Did you like their scenes together? Do you think they’re a good fit?
- What are your thoughts about the climax, the final battle between Jules and Margaux and the ending?
- Why do you think the painting was called Woman on Fire and what did it represent overall?
- Sharon Stone will adapt and also also star in the film version of the novel. Which scenes are you excited to see on the big screen? Who is your ideal casting for the main roles?
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Woman on Fire! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton
If you’re looking for another woman-led thriller, definitely check out State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton!
After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state.
There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. But it’s a canny move on the part of the president. With this appointment, he silences one of his harshest critics, since taking the job means Adams must step down as head of her multinational media conglomerate.
As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source.
Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.
What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game involving the volatile and Byzantine politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; the race to develop nuclear weapons in the region; the Russian mob; a burgeoning rogue terrorist organization; and an American government set back on its heels in the international arena.
As the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of powerin the places where it counts the most.
To defeat such an intricate, carefully constructed conspiracy, it will take the skills of a unique team: a passionate young FSO; a dedicated journalist; and a smart, determined, but as yet untested new secretary of state.
State of Terror is a unique and utterly compelling international thriller cowritten by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th secretary of state, and Louise Penny, a multiple award-winning #1 New York Times bestselling novelist.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
Another engaging character study and thriller is The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.
As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.
Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.
With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.