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The Privileges Reader’s Guide

By Jonathan Dee

The Privileges by Jonathan Dee


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. What do you think the author was ultimately trying to say about wealth and greed? Do you agree with him?

2. Adam and Cynthia have a bit of an obsession with leaving their pasts behind them. Do you think this serves them well? What about their children? Does it ultimately help or hinder them?

3. There are no specific references to dates in the novel, giving the story a sense that it is suspended in time. Why do you think the author chose to do that?

4. Did you find yourself able to sympathize with these characters throughout their rise? How important or necessary do you think it is for the reader to be able to do that?

5. There are many thematic elements in the plot: wealth, family, risk, love. Which resonated for you the most?

6. Would you describe Adam and Cynthia as amoral, or as having their own sort of morality? Is there a difference?

7. Many of Jonathan Dee’s novels have been referred to as social critiques. Do you think he meant for The Privileges to be interpreted that way?

8. This book came out on the heels of a global financial meltdown. How do you think the characters would have fared in today’s financial climate?

9. Jonas develops obsessions–unusual even for someone his age–with music and then with art. What do you think he’s searching for?

10. The novel skips through time, with each chapter beginning a few years later than the previous one. Do you like this technique? Why do you think the author chose it?

11. What did you make of Cynthia’s loyal attachment to her absent father?

12. April and Jonas respond to their family¹s enormous wealth in very different ways. Why do you think that is? And do you think either of them truly has the capacity to change at the end?

13. What do you think the next generation of Moreys (presuming there is one) will be like?

14. Do you think Adam and Cynthia got what they deserved in the end?

15. What does it mean, finally, to be privileged?

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