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The Whispers Reader’s Guide

By Ashley Audrain

The Whispers by Ashley Audrain

The Whispers Reader’s Guide

By Ashley Audrain

Category: Women’s Fiction | Suspense & Thriller | Literary Fiction


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. So much of The Whispers is about women’s relationships with each other. Whitney and Blair each seek something different in their friendship. What role do you think envy plays in their dynamic? In what ways do you think they misunderstand each other?

2. Whitney and Blair reflect on their mothers while trying to make sense of their own experiences of motherhood. Whitney seems determined to live differently from the way her mother did, while Blair feels obligated to sacrifice in the same ways her mother did. What are the consequences of these choices for each woman?

3. Three of the main characters are women entering midlife. We often associate the idea of a midlife crisis with men, but rarely discuss the emotional challenges for women at this stage. What do you think these challenges are for Whitney, Blair, and Rebecca?

4. Whitney struggles with maternal rage and the shame associated with it. Why do you think society is so uncomfortable with mothers feeling angry?

5. The title The Whispers alludes to the intuitive knowledge a woman has about herself and her life. Discuss the ways in which Whitney, Blair, Rebecca, and Mara confront or ignore these “whispers,” and what the outcome is for each of them. Have you experienced this sense of a whisper in your own life?

6. Blair feels conflicted about what she wants to uncover in her marriage—she struggles with the decision to confront Aiden about an affair, and then she struggles to accept his response. Do you think she finds true conviction at the end?

7. At several points in the novel, the women decide to hide knowledge from one another to avoid facing the consequences of the truth. Meanwhile, Whitney begins to have a sense that Jacob might know more than he’s telling her. What do you think Jacob knows?

8. Female desire, in different forms, is a theme explored throughout the novel. Discuss how each women experiences desire, and the consequences of her indulging or denying herself.

9. Mara, the all-knowing eyes of Harlow Street, is judgmental of Whitney and Blair as women and as mothers. Do you think she’s right in her judgments, and why do you think she stayed quiet about everything she knew?

10.  In today’s world, women are considered more independent and empowered than ever, and yet there remains strong expectations of women’s behavior in the roles of mother and wife. How does this apply to the characters in The Whispers?

11. The novel explores the idea of the narratives we create around ourselves and others based on what we share and what we protect. Do you relate to this idea in your own life and your own social circle?

12. Xavier reveals something jaw-dropping in his conversation with Whitney at the end. What do you think Whitney does next?

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