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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Paris Novel

1. How does Stella’s character evolve from the beginning to the end of the story? What do you think are the key moments that catalyze this change?

2. Stella’s adventure begins with a mysterious inheritance from her estranged mother: a one-way plane ticket to Paris with a note reading “Go to Paris.” Discuss the importance of this inheritance in the story. How does it function as more than just a physical item, and what does it symbolize in terms of Stella’s relationship with her mother and her journey ahead?

3. How do Stella and her mother differ? How are they similar?

4. Pick one scene that you felt vividly captured the essence of Paris during the 1980s, and discuss why it stood out to you. If you could travel to Paris during any era, which would you choose, and why?

5. Stella’s first encounter with luxury and spontaneity is the Dior dress, leading her to take her first taste of oysters. How do you think this act of indulgence impacts her outlook on life and her willingness to embark on new adventures?

6. Have you ever encountered something --- a piece of clothing, jewelry or even a song --- that made you realize your potential in a new way? If so, what was it?

7. Throughout the book, Stella meets a variety of characters, from art collector Jules Delatour to the Tumbleweeds of Shakespeare & Company. Which secondary character did you find most intriguing and why? How do they each contribute to Stella’s transformation?

8. Food plays a pivotal role in this novel, from Stella tasting her first oysters to discovering a passion for food that may be connected to her past. Discuss how food is not just sustenance but a key that unlocks memories, emotions and connections in the story. Which meal did you most want to eat?

9. THE PARIS NOVEL is imbued with elements of mystery, such as the hundred-year-old enigma surrounding a Manet painting --- and, of course, the identity of Stella’s father. What theories did you have about either of these mysteries before they were solved?

10. “Being a Tumbleweed, even a reluctant one, was making Stella understand what it meant to lose yourself to become part of a community.” Discuss this line. How does Shakespeare & Company contribute to Stella’s personal growth and her emotional connection to Paris?

11. As Stella integrates into Paris’s literary, art and culinary worlds, she begins to understand what it might mean to live a larger life. What do you think are the essential elements of “living a larger life,” according to the novel? How does Stella’s journey inspire you to reflect on your own life and aspirations?

12. Reflecting on Stella’s journey, discuss the concept of “home” in the novel. Is it a place, a feeling, a discovery of self or something else entirely? How do you personally define home, and how has this book influenced your perception?

The Paris Novel
by Ruth Reichl