Alternate Side (Quindlen) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. How would you describe the state of the Nolan's marriage, at the start of the novel …and at the end?

2. Quindlen spends the first 100 pages or so depicting city life—dogs, rats, housing costs, and parking tickets. What do you find most amusing, insightful, or interesting in her portrait of urban life? Or perhaps this book is too narrowly focused on New York life for your taste.

3. In what way does Quindlen poke fun at the Manhattan elites: especially their exclusivity and sense of entitlement? Do you recognize anything in some of the characters—people you know, have met, or perhaps have read about?

4. Follow-up to Question 3: Does the following passage accurately describe the Nolan's marriage? Does it seem pertinent to any, many, or some, marriages which have lasted 25 years?

You could argue they'd lost their way, in their choices, their work, their marriage. But the truth was, there wasn't any way. There was just day after day, small stuff, idle conversation, scheduling. And then after a couple of decades it somehow added up to something, for good or for ill or for both.

5. Which characters do you most sympathize with? Does your attitude toward any of them change during the course of the novel? Do the characters themselves change by the end? Do they attain enlightenment—self-knowledge, maturity, a wider (or deeper) understanding of the world around them and their place in it?

6. Discuss the parking lot incident and how it created fault lines in the neighborhood? How does it affect the various characters?

7. Talk about the significance of the book's title? What are the multiple meanings?

8. If you have read Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, do you see any similarities to that book in Anna Quindlen's Alternate Side?

9. Talk about the class divisions so prominent in this novel. Do they ring true? Or do you find them overly exaggerated?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

top of page (summary)

Site by BOOM Boom Supercreative

LitLovers © 2019