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The Stranger I Wed Reader’s Guide

By Harper St. George

The Stranger I Wed by Harper St. George


Reader’s Guide
The Stranger I Wed by Harper St. George
Discussion Questions:

1.   The Gilded Age was a time of social change and innovation, and we saw women’s rights and workers’ rights emerging into the forefront of public consciousness in the Western world. However, The Stranger I Wed is set in 1877 and 1878, near the beginning of this discourse, when women primarily existed in the workforce as menial labor and very few opportunities for advancement were available to them. Given the scope of Cora’s world, what do you think about her decision to marry to receive her inheritance? What other choices did she have and how do you see those working out for her and her sisters?

2.   Cora went from having the responsibility of her family on her shoulders to learning how to share responsibility with her husband. How do you think she changed from the beginning of the story to the end? How did your opinion of her change over the course of the story?

3.   Cora, Jenny, and Eliza all had different reactions to their inheritance and the condition to marry in order to receive it. Did you identify with one sister more than the others? How do you think you would have reacted to a similar condition?

4.   The Gilded Age ranged from the outright poverty of the working class to the opulent wealth of the upper crust of society. Cora and Leo represent those extremes and how volatile the era was in that fortunes could flip-flop in an instant. Discuss the effect of those extremes on their characters and how these might have shaped them.

5.   How would being illegitimate affect Cora’s sense of self-worth? Do you see any parts in the story when that aspect of her background affected her decisions?

6.   In many ways the women of this time period went into marriage with very little power. Their husbands were in control of their person—they became chattel upon their marriage—and in control of their money and property. Cora had to go into the marriage with a great deal of faith that Leo would have her well-being at heart. What did Leo risk by agreeing to the marriage?

7.   Did you suspect that the late Earl was not Leo’s real father? How do you think that knowledge affected Leo as he was growing up? How would he have been different had he been the biological son of his father?

8.   Cora felt a deep sense of betrayal when she learned that Leo had voted as he did. How did you feel about his vote? Could he have handled that situation better?

9.   Do you think that Cora overreacted in how she responded to Leo’s betrayal? Do you think Leo should have told her about his vote

10. Did the history in this book surprise you? Did you learn anything new about this period that you wanted to do further research on?
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