READERS GUIDESEX AND VANITY
QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Charlotte interprets Rosemary Zao’s offer of her hotel rooms as showing off her wealth, but Lucie has a different take on it as a reflection of Chinese culture and attitudes toward wealth and generosity. Who do you think is right?
2. What did you think of Lucie’s scrutiny of George’s social media profiles? Would you have done the same thing?
3. Discuss Lucie’s attitude toward her mixed-race ethnicity and how it informs her ill-fated engagement to Cecil.
4. Speaking of Lucie and Cecil’s engagement, what did you think of his dramatic proposal? Creative or too over the top?
5. What did you think of Lucie’s grandmother referring to Lucie as her “precious China doll”? Later in the novel Charlotte says “she’s not a racist, just a snob.” Do you agree?
6. Discuss the connection between Lucie denying herself the opportunity to embrace her own talent as an artist and her efforts to resist her attraction to George.
7. Lucie’s cousin Charlotte reveals her true self in surprising ways as the novel unfolds. What were your first impressions of her, and how did they change?
8. Discuss the symmetry and significance of uber-WASP Cornelia Guest and Rosemary Zao as the two women who help Lucie to finally embrace her truth.
9. Casting call: who would play Lucie, George, and Cecil in the movie?
10. The author creates memorable characters in all of his novels. Who are your favorite characters in this novel and why?
11. Discuss the ending of the novel. Did you find it satisfying or did you want to see Lucie and George tie the knot?
12. Sex and Vanity was written as an homage to A Room with a View. If you’re familiar with E.M. Forster’s classic novel, did this connection come to mind? And if you haven’t read A Room with a View, are you inspired to read it now?