FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER

By Ellen Meister
BerkleyDecember 2013
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ellenmeister.com

Trade Paperback352 pages, $15.00, ISBN: 9780425264713 | 352
Subject: History / Coming of Age / Poetry

  1. Violet relies on Mrs. Parker to help her find her voice outside of her writing. Discuss the concept of "finding your voice." Is this solely the idea of speaking up, or is there more to it than that?
  2. At the opening of the story when Violet is trying to end her relationship with Carl, it is clear that she needs to be able to stand up to him but is unable to do so. Is her ability to speak up more, less, or as important once she starts dating the far less pushy Michael?
  3. Outside of the custody battle, in what ways is it important for Violet to find her voice for her niece, Delaney? How about for herself?
  4. Dorothy Parker's style of snappy comeback is a hallmark of American culture. She was the embodiment of "having a voice," the very thing Violet struggles with most. In what ways is this type of voice an American ideal? In what ways is it transcendent of American culture?
  5. Beyond "finding her voice," in what ways is Mrs. Parker the perfect mentor for Violet? In what ways is Violet the perfect protégé for Mrs. Parker? Discuss some of the other female-mentorship relationships present in Farewell, Dorothy Parker.
  6. Some of the minor characters—such as Andi, Sandra, Malcolm, and even Ivy—have antagonistic roles in this novel. Do you find them wholly unsympathetic, or is there reason to consider these characters both good and bad? Does your opinion about them change throughout the book?
  7. Mrs. Parker makes the controversial decision to take over Violet and sleep with Michael Do you think she was acting altruistically for Violet's benefit, or selfishly for her own gratification? Does it matter?
  8. What would you identify as the turning point for Mrs. Parker that allowed her to finally move on?
  9. Violet has both an inner journey (overcoming her timidity) and outer journey (gaining custody of her niece). Does the intersection of these threads in the courtroom scene provide any additional insight into Violet?

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