This reading group guide for The Suite Life includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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When Samantha Bonti meets the man of her dreams in Alec DeMarco, a successful Wall Street broker, she believes she has finally left the insecurities of her hardscrabble past behind. But now she faces a different kind of challenge: carving a place for herself in the lavish, high-stakes world of Manhattan’s elite without losing her own identity. Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. While dating Alec, does Samantha turn a blind eye to warning signs about his true nature, or was she unaware of his dark side until after they married? Does Alec genuinely care for Samantha, or is she simply another acquisition to him?
2. At numerous points in the story Samantha is shocked at Alec’s behavior, especially when he punches Hercules and later when he slaps her glasses off her face. Why does she continue to stay with him? Why is she so bothered by her failure to defend Hercules? What larger implications are there in her silence?
3. In what ways does Alec remind Samantha of Tony Kroon, her former boyfriend? Are the two men more alike than they are different? Why does she compare Wall Street to the mob?
4. What role does religion play in Samantha’s life? When Alec asks her how she survived her relationship with Tony, she responds, “My faith sustains me” (page 31). Cite examples of how she draws on her faith during her marriage to Alec.
5. Samantha’s grandmother provided her with encouragement and a loving foundation, while her mother was a drug addict and an alcoholic. How do her past relationships with each woman continue to affect her and influence her life, in both positive and negative ways? In particular, how do Samantha’s fears about her mother affect her own parenting of Isabella?
6. Of all Alec’s family members, why is it Giovanni to whom Samantha feels the closest? Why does she sense she no longer belongs in Alec’s family—or his Wall Street crowd—once Giovanni is gone?
7. At one point Samantha wonders, Do I even have any negotiating power anyway?
(page 203). Why does she feel so powerless in her marriage to Alec? How much of it has to do with her ceding all financial control to him? Does money equal power in a relationship?
8. Compare Samantha’s two different worlds—the wealthy Wall Street circle and the theater industry. Why does she credit the latter, including her friendships with Doris, Marvin, and Gregory, with preserving her sanity?
9. How does Samantha stay grounded in Alec’s over-the-top world? As he inducts her into his lavish lifestyle, she vows, “No matter what happened, I fully intended to remain true to myself” (page 48). Does she manage to do this?
10. When Alec’s career begins to unravel, why is Samantha better able to handle the reversal of fortune than he is? Do you agree with her theory that society was at least partly responsible for Alec’s failures—as a husband, father, and businessman—by “causing him to believe that it was wealth that defined him” (page 302)?
11. Why is Samantha so determined to see that The Blessed Bridge
be published? What does the book represent to her? How is it a touchstone in her life, especially in darker times?
12. What draws Samantha to Spiro Stavros? What does he offer her that Alec does not? Would Spiro be a good match for her? Why or why not?
13. Samantha finally admits that she no longer loves or even likes Alec. Why, then, does she choose to stay with him? What do you suppose the future holds for her, romantically and otherwise?
14. The recent “Occupy Wall Street” movement brought the country’s top one percent into the media spotlight. After reading The Suite Life
, what is your opinion of the world of high finance? Did the book dispel or confirm any preconceived ideas you had about the Wall Street elite? How so? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Along with The Suite Life
, read and discuss Brooklyn Story
, the first book featuring Samantha Bonti.
2. Samantha finds fulfillment in writing a novel and producing plays. Do you have a long-held creative dream you’d like to accomplish? Share it with the group, and see what advice they have to offer. In addition, combine your discussion of The Suite Life
with a visit either to the theater or to a bookstore to attend an author event.
3. Indulge your sweet tooth like Samantha did during her first visit with Alec’s family. Enjoy strawberries dipped in prosecco and then rolled in powdered or brown sugar.