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Book clubs  •  1 October 2021

 

If I Had Your Face book club notes

A glitteringly dark and unsettling debut that's perfect for book club.

Frances Cha's debut has been described by Taylor Jenkins Reid as 'absolutely stunning... Assured, bold, and electrifying, If I Had Your Face marks the entrance of a bright new voice in fiction'. The novel plunges us into the mesmerising world of contemporary Seoul – a place where extreme plastic surgery is as routine as getting a haircut, where women compete for spots in secret 'room salons' to entertain wealthy businessmen after hours, where K-Pop stars are the object of all-consuming obsession, and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move. Find out for yourself why this book is getting rave reviews such as 'stunning', 'brilliant', 'remarkable' and 'gripping'.

Discussion points and questions:

  • What did you learn about Korean culture from this novel? What surprised you? How did the setting impact the story?
  • Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from multiple points of view? How did this impact your reading experience and connection to the characters?
  • Which character did you like the most and why?
  • Kyuri says ‘Even as a girl, I knew the only chance I had was to change my face.’ What role does she mean? What role does beauty play in this story? In what ways are beauty standards in Cha’s portrayal of Korea different or similar to those here in Australia?
  • Discuss how social class exists in this novel. How does it impact the relationships between characters? What do you think the author is trying to say about class mobility in Korea?
  • Why do you think Miho is so enthralled by Ruby? What types of cultural currency does Ruby have that the other women don’t, and how does this impact the trajectory of her life?
  • How does parenthood, particularly motherhood, factor into the story? How does the author push back at traditional notions of family?
  • When Miho finds out that Hanbin is cheating on her, she decides to use the relationship to benefit financially and enhance her reputation. What do you make of this? Do you think her choice is justified?
  • How does Cha explore Korean gender stereotypes, and how do they compare to those in Australia?
  • Looking at a photo of Woona’s baby toward the end of the book, Kyuri says ‘I understand what it would be like to think only about tomorrow, instead of just today.’ Where do you think each character ends up after the novel ends? What would your hopes for them be?

 


If I Had Your Face Frances Cha

A glitteringly dark and unsettling debut novel set in the drinking dens and beauty salons of South Korea

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