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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Honeymoon

1. When Marian and Johnnie arrive in Venice for their honeymoon, Marian finds that she is “unable to give herself over to the surge of excitement she’d experienced sixteen years earlier” (p. 5) when she’d visited Venice with George Lewes. How does her romance with George compare to what she has with Johnnie? Do you think it overshadows her marriage to Johnnie?

2. Describe Marian’s relationship with her brother, Isaac. What causes the rift between them, and how does this rift affect Marian’s life and writing?

3. Describe Marian’s relationship with the men of her time. Is there a sense of friction between her physical appearance and her intelligence?

4. Marian is incredibly aware of how others perceive her. On page 12 she is conscious that others may be “twittering over their morning coffee about the besotted old woman marrying the handsome man young enough to be her son.” How does Marian perceive herself? How do the people closest to her perceive her?

5. On page 367 Willie describes Johnnie as being “ashamed” of his illness. What is Marian ashamed of? How does Marian handle her shame?

6. What do you make of Marian’s reaction to Johnnie’s “illness” (p. 363) considering she herself had faced the prospect of suicide?

7. Describe Marian’s relationship to other women. What do you make of her estimation of “frivolous women” (p. 221) and her belief that women should take “care of children and their families” (p. 147)? What does she mean when she realizes that in marrying Johnnie she will finally be “like other women” (p. 329)?

8. Why do you think Marian marries Johnnie, even though she is still very much in love with George? How would you describe her relationship with Johnnie? How do you think Marian herself would describe her relationship with Johnnie?

9. Marian had “always wanted to write about a honeymoon” (p. 344), and she calls her time spent with George in Dover their “honeymoon” (p. 340). What are the differences between the two honeymoons in Marian’s life?

10. Have you read any of George Eliot’s work? How has THE HONEYMOON changed your knowledge or understanding of the famous author and her work?

The Honeymoon
by Dinitia Smith

  • Publication Date: November 14, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press
  • ISBN-10: 1590518888
  • ISBN-13: 9781590518885