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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Our Woman in Moscow

1. At the start of the book, Ruth tells the reader: “What I have done this summer, I have done to repay a all who came before me and saved me without my knowing it.” Who is she speaking of? How does she ultimately repay them?

2. Ruth tells the reader, “Nothing ever stays the same, does it? The accumulation of age and experience changes us daily. If it doesn’t, you’d better worry.” Do you agree? How did age and experience change Ruth or Iris or Sasha?

3. Did Iris make the right decision to stay in Rome and marry Sasha instead of going back to America with her sister? Would you have done the same? Was Ruth truly acting in Iris’ best interests when she tried to separate Sasha and Iris, or did she have other motives?

4. Did the death of Ruth and Iris’ father by suicide when they were children influence who they became as adults? How did it affect their sisterhood?

5. What do you make of Iris and Sasha’s marriage? What about Iris’ relationship with Philip? Would you have gone to Moscow with Sasha or stayed in England with Philip?

6. At the beginning of the book, we learn that Lyudmila Ivanova “has one faith --- the Communist state. Everything else falls sacrifice to this one pure idea, even herself.” Does her faith ever change? How does she compare to Sasha Digby, who is also willing to sacrifice everything for his Communist ideals?

7. Were you surprised to discover Iris’ true role at the end of the novel? When Iris reflects that “...bravery is woven from all kinds of different fabric, and maybe hers is actually the more tough, the more durable,” do you agree?

8. Did you recognize characters from Beatriz Williams’ other novels in this story? Were there any you were surprised or excited to rediscover?

9. What do you think ultimately happens to these characters in the years after this story ends? What becomes of Sasha, of Iris and Philip, and of Ruth? What kind of future do you see for them as the Cold War continues, and after it ends?

Our Woman in Moscow
by Beatriz Williams