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The Marriage Pact Reader’s Guide

By Michelle Richmond

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. In general, what do you think motivates people to join cults such as The Pact? What motivates Jake and Alice in particular?

2. Jake and Alice are drawn into The Pact because it seems fine from the outside, and also because they feel it would be impolite to refuse Finnegan’s gift. Have you ever found yourself drawn into something seemingly innocent, only to discover that it is not what it seems?

3. Are there any Pact rules that you find appealing, or that you think could strengthen a marriage? 

4. Though Alice and Jake both enjoy their work, Alice has the more demanding job, and Jake takes on more of the household responsibilities. Jake comments at one point that marriages are always slightly out of balance and that The Pact’s goal of restoring balance to relationships is noble. Do you agree that most marriages go through periods of imbalance? What makes relationships imbalanced? And is it even possible for two people in a relationship to find a perfect balance?

5. How does Jake and Alice’s relationship change over the course of the novel?

6. Do you think Jake and Alice’s marriage will last forever? Why or why not?

7. Is Alice right to be angry with Jake when she discovers he hasn’t been forthcoming about his meetings with JoAnne? Is his excuse–that he wanted to protect Alice–a fair reason for his lies of omission?

8. Discuss the punishments The Pact imposes on Alice for failing to give her marriage adequate attention. Though their methods are extreme, can you justify the principle behind the Pact’s rules?

9. How do Jake and Alice’s family histories and previous relationships inform their choices over the course of the novel? Were there choices they made that you strongly agreed or disagreed with?

10. Jake worries that Alice has given up too much of her true self in her marriage to him. In what ways does marriage require us to change who we are or to leave behind a valuable or essential part of ourselves?

11. What surprised you the most in the novel?

12. How do you feel about the choice Alice and Jake make at the end? Is it the right choice? Why or why not? Given that situation, what choice would you have made? Do you think you and your spouse would agree on what choice to make?

13. Would you ever be tempted to join an organization like The Pact?

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