loves speaking to reading groups in person or by speakerphone
when her schedule permits. She suggests that book clubs talk
about these questions about her novels:
on the Rocks
Many works of fiction deal with young women who are transformed
after moving to New York City. One of the most famous is Truman
Capotes novella Breakfast at Tiffanys.
Why do the best of these books have an appeal that lasts for
Laura Smart, the heroine of Manhattan on the Rocks,
dreams of becoming Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys
without the foot-long cigarette holder. Does she achieve
her dream? What similarities and differences do you see between
Laura and Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffanys?
If you have read Breakfast at Tiffanys and seen
the movie, you know that the novella is darker than the film.
In the book, Holly Golightly is a call girl, a high-priced
prostitute. In the movie Audrey Hepburn appears to have no
fixed occupation. Why do you think filmmakers made this change?
What changes might be necessary in a film of Manhattan
on the Rocks?
Novels about characters who step outside their usual setting
are often called fish-out-of-water novels. These books include
some of the most respected novels of the past century, such
as Kingsley Amiss Lucky Jim (about a naive young
man who attends an elite English university). They also include
recent fiction such as The Princess Diaries. Why do
these books have so much potential for comedy? What pitfalls
do authors need to avoid in writing them?
The catch to many fish-out-of-water novels is that characters
who at first appear to be out of their element often turn
to be more at home in a new setting than in an old one. Is
this true of Laura Smart? Why?
Laura leaves Ohio to work for a magazine run by a television
personality who hopes to become the next Oprah or Martha.
Is Manhattan on the Rocks mainly about the cult of
personality that surrounds those two stars? Or is it about
Olivia Goldsmith, author of The First Wives Club, described
Janice Haraydas first novel, The Accidental Bride
as satire with heart. Does this description also
fit her second? What does Manhattan on the Rocks satirize?
Manhattan on the Rocks brings back Brad Newburger,
a public relations executive from The Accidental Bride
who represents a condom boutique called Condom and Gomorrah.
The author also writes about a law firm called Soke and Bilkem
(inspired, she says, by the firm of Dunning, Spongett, and
Leach in The Bonfire of the Vanities). She clearly
likes to have fun with words. What effect does this kind of
playfulness? Can wordplay be part of an authors satirical
technique? You might enjoy comparing The Accidental Bride
and Manhattan on the Rocks to Wendy Holdens comedies
of manners, Bad Heir Day and Farm Fatale.
Harayda calls Manhattan on the Rocks a comedy
of New York manners. Some people would say that New
Yorkers have no manners. Can you write a comedy of manners
about a city widely perceived as rude? Why?
Like Manhattan on the Rocks, the bestseller The
Devil Wears Prada involves a young woman who works for
a fashion magazine and sees her co-workers receiving perks
such as free clothes, makeup, and other items. Discuss the
different points of view that the authors of the two novels
have toward this practice.
Each chapter of The Accidental Bride begins with a
quote from Jane Austen. How do these quotes relate to the
plot? Do they serve different purposes in the individual chapters
and in the novel as a whole? What are the purposes? You may
want to compare The Accidental Bride to Karen Joy Fowlers
The Jane Austen Book Club.
Many reviewers noted that the humor in The Accidental Bride
is satirical. What are some of the things the novel is satirizing?
Does Janice Harayda satirize some of the same things that
Satire can take many forms. For example, it can be gentle
or biting (sometimes both in the work of the same author,
as in Austens novels). How would you describe the satire
in The Accidental Bride?
The first sentence of The Accidental Bride reads: One
month before her wedding to the third richest man in the second
largest city in Ohio, Lily Blair awoke in the middle of the
night and realized that she did not want to get married.
The author doesnt name that second largest city.
But you may know that it is Cleveland. (The largest city is
Columbus, the capital.) Why you do think the author didnt
name Cleveland? Do you think she did this for legal, literary,
or other reasons? How might your reactions to the novel have
changed if the author had named Cleveland in the first line?
Lily, the heroine of The Accidental Bride, doesnt
want to see a psychiatrist because she doesnt think
many therapists are as wise as writers like La Rochefoucauld,
who said, In love there is always the kisser and the
one who gets kissed. What does this saying mean? Is
there a kisser and a one who gets kissed
in The Accidental Bride?
Lily also admires another writer who says love is an
agreement on the part of two people to overestimate each other.
Do you think that writer was being serious or facetious or
A critic for The New York Times wrote in her review
of The Accidental Bride that Harayda is an astute
social commentator. That is, she is saying some things
about our society in addition to telling a story. What are
some of the things you think she is trying to say?
In novels about women in their twenties, the men are often
cads. Thats especially true of the heroines boyfriends.
Lilys fiancé, Mark, is different. He is a kind
and thoughtful man who is trying to understand the woman he
loves. How does this affect the plot and other aspects of
Mark is trial lawyer who is forced to defend a company accusedwith
good reasonof age discrimination. Do you see any parallels
between Lilys situation and that of the older people
in the lawsuit (called Geezers and Geezerettes
by their employer)?
Some editors rejected this novel because they thought it didnt
have enough conflict between Lily and other characters. Do
you think The Accidental Bride is primarily about the
conflict between Lily and others, such as her mother, or between
Lily and herself?
The Accidental Bride belongs to the genre known as
the comedy of manners, which consists of fiction
thats tweak the customs of a particular group (often a group
that isor sees itselfas upper class). The humor
in this genre tends to involve wit and charm instead of slapstick
or physical comedy. A classic example is Oscar Wildes
The Importance of Being Ernest. What are some other
plays, movies, or novels that are comedies of manners? Why
do you like them?
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