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Book clubs  •  1 April 2019


Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife Book Club Notes

Bring your book club together for lively debate about the true meaning of ‘for better or worse’ – both in marriage and in friendship.

It’s 1930, and as the Depression overtakes rural New South Wales, what it means to be a wife tests the four respectable ladies of Prospect to their very limit. Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife is the latest hilarious and heart-warming novel from Barbara Toner.

Discussion points and questions:

  • Why might each of the four ladies ask themselves the question posed in the title?
  • What might their answers be at a) the beginning of the book and b) the end?
  • Has the meaning of wife changed since 1930 – if not, why not and if so, how?
  • Do the ladies’ existing or potential partners have a view of what they think their wives should be? How does this affect each lady’s behaviour?
  • Has how and why we marry changed since 1930? If so, for better or worse?
  • How do the ladies’ views of marriage (and wifely obligations) differ from each other?
  • Is Larry Murdoch more romantic than villainous?
  • Why is the meaning of wife central to the plot?

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