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Would I Lie to You? (Thomas) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. The novel opens with Venus' recurring nightmare: she is abandoned on her wedding day when Clint is lured away by a glamorous actress who tells him, "You know you need a real woman, someone who's going to love you and take care of you and put you first at all times." Is Venus afraid that she is truly incapable of putting someone first, or merely afraid that Clint thinks so? Why do you think this dream features Clint rather than Airic as the groom?

2. Venus does not hesitate to take the job in LosAngeles, and, in fact, is packed and ready to roll when she springs the news on Airic. However, she is irritated that Airic does not put up a fight. He is "a little too excited for her taste.…Part of her wanted him to throw drama, plead for her to stay, maybe even pout a little. What would it hurt to show that he cared, needed her? He didn't always have to be so understanding, so mature." What does this double standard tell you about Venus? Would she have cancelled her plans if Airic had begged her to?

3. How much of Jake's allure is due to the fact that he is a refreshing, baggage-free distraction from Venus' family crisis? How does Thomas set up tension with her descriptions of Jake? Are you surprised to find him a trustworthy, loveable character by the end?

4. Venus is deeply conflicted about her career: "What was she doing here in Los Angeles? She'd asked herself that question numerous times. Her answer always straight from the pages of Essence, O, and New Woman…unleashing her career potential, setting goals and overcoming fears. She was, after all, the Millennium woman…Underneath it all, she simply wanted to be loved...A husband, a baby, a home with a cuddly little dog." Is Thomas suggesting that some women are pressured by the media to strive for career success against their own gut instincts? To what extent do you think magazines like Essence and O affect women's ideas, both positively and negatively, about what they should be doing with their lives?

5. How do you explain Venus' fury at her mother's doctor? Are her feelings directed at the illness itself? The medical field for being inadequate to the task? Her mother for being mortal, or possibly passing a flawed gene on to her? Is any of this emotion aimed at Clint?

6. Alienated from her parents and confused about her men, Venus ends up relying on the kindness of strangers. Who helps her in unexpected ways? What point do you think Thomas is making with these encounters?

7. What is the significance of Venus' memory about her college boyfriend, Tony, and the tumultuous end of their relationship? What fears about herself does this memory dredge up?

8. When Jake turns on the charm during their first meeting, Venus acknowledges, "the fun was always in the chase." When she feels overwhelmed by his ardor, she admits, "She was used to doing the chasing, being the one who wanted more than she would ever receive." And when she is late to visit her mother at the hospital, she berates herself: "Always a step behind…a true sign that she was never going to catch whatever she was chasing." Discuss Venus' obsession with "the chase." Is she able to let go of this cat-and-mouse mentality in the end?

9. Venus tells Jake, "I learned a long time ago not to blame others for my unhappiness, or happiness for that matter. Either way it's my responsibility." Has she internalized this lesson? Where do you see examples of her having achieved this clarity?

10. Henry and Wendy offer Venus clashing advice about her relationship. Henry insists that liking someone (Jake, for instance) takes precedence over loyalty or even love. He tells her that "life is full of risk and danger but living is much more fun," and urges her to "start taking some chances or you gonna end up unhappy and alone." Wendy urges her to stay loyal to Airic. "You'd give up a man you've known and loved for someone who just happened to be there to pick up the pieces when you were vulnerable?…[Airic] was there for you…Now you have to stick by him." Both Henry and Wendy claim to be happily married. Whose advice do you agree with?

11. When Venus confronts Airic about his agonizing secret, she turns the conversation toward herself, rather than comfort him: "I wanted to finally be right, to finally be the person that someone could count on, through thick and thin. I wanted to be that person for you, Airic…Conviction, forgiveness, compassion, whatever it's called. I thought you saw that in me. I thought you loved me the same way I loved you. I thought you trusted me." Is Venus being fair? Is she honestly feeling injured here, or has this situation merely provided her with an easy "out" from the relationship?

12. After all her hard work on the JPWear account, Venus capitulates to "the dynamic duo" during their last meeting in LA, but not until she has a temper tantrum and balls out Legend. This is not her first loss of control in a professional setting. How do you feel about Venus abandoning her career ambitions so quickly, and in such a firestorm?

13. Discuss Airic's assessment: "Most people saw what they wanted instead of what was really there. Venus was most people."

14. Venus is delighted by the sabotage wedding that closes the novel. Is this what she has needed all along in order to make a decision—a forced, public accounting of her own feelings? How would the novel have been different if Venus had freely chosen the timing and circumstance of her wedding?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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