As promised, I've posted Elizabeth Bard's Lunch in Paris Readers Guide here so that those who are reading and any who may be interested in the upcoming discussion will have the questions readily available. A summary of the book and my observations will be posted by April 30. The author, Elizabeth Bard, has promised to drop by around that date. Thanks and happy reading!
READING GROUP GUIDE
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
By Elizabeth Bard
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. In Lunch in Paris, major life events are landmarked by food. Why is food such a potent force — and is this particularly true in France? Has a meal ever changed your life? Do you have a particular food that brings to mind certain memories, certain people?
2. Elizabeth is slow to assimilate into French culture, in spite of her eagerness to do so. Which parts of this adaptation do you think would be the most difficult?
3. Elizabeth faces some linguistic challenges as well as cultural ones, especially when she meets Gwendal’s parents — and introduces them to her own. How does she overcome communication barriers? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to rely on a form of communication other than language?
4. Halfway through a first date with her future husband, Gwendal, Elizabeth goes home with him. How key a role does food play in the seduction that follows? How does sex on a first date play differently between France and America? Does the author seem confused or liberated — or both — by the cultural differences?
5. Elizabeth has some difficulty adjusting to life in Paris after having grown up in New York. What are the main differences she sees between French and American culture?
6. In the beginning, Elizabeth has trouble understanding Gwendal’s lack of a concrete “five year plan.” Throughout the book, how do their different visions of success clash and,ultimately, complement each other?
7. In explaining his frustrations with the French system, Gwendal quotes the American author (and former Paris resident) Henry Miller: “In America, every man is potentially president. Here, every man is potentially a zero.” What do you make of Gwendal’s statement?
8. Elizabeth pushes Gwendal to pursue his career beyond what is generally socially acceptable. What do you make of her effort —and his eventual success?
9. Despite some misgivings, Elizabeth is helpless but to fall in love with French cooking. What would you say typifies Parisian cuisine? If you had to serve a meal "typical" of your culture to a French person, what would it be like? What do you think your way of eating says
about your country and its culture?
10. What meal or dish could you be seduced by — or which would you use to seduce someone?
11. When Elizabeth asks for a “normal”-size piece of cake at a family dinner, she makes a subtle cultural error that takes her a long time to understand. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt you missed a social cue but didn’t quite understand what you did wrong?
12. Elizabeth voices serious doubts about raising a child under the French system of health care, after seeing how doctors treated Gwendal’s father. Is her wariness justified? Would you be able to reconcile the French outlook with your own?
13. What will be the ongoing challenges — and opportunities — as Elizabeth and Gwendal continue to shape their life and grow their family in Paris?