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Almost Famous Women

Almost Famous Women


  • reading group guide
From “a top-notch emerging writer with a crisp and often poetic voice and wily, intelligent humor” (The Boston Globe): a collection of stories that explores the lives of talented, gutsy women throughout history.

The fascinating lives of the characters in Almost Famous Women have mostly been forgotten, but their stories are burning to be told. Now Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, resurrects these women, lets them live in the reader’s imagination, so we can explore their difficult choices. Nearly every story in this dazzling collection is based on a woman who attained some celebrity—she raced speed boats or was a conjoined twin in show business; a reclusive painter of renown; a member of the first all-female, integrated swing band. We see Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s troubled niece, Dolly; West With the Night author Beryl Markham; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sister, Norma. These extraordinary stories travel the world, explore the past (and delve into the future), and portray fiercely independent women defined by their acts of bravery, creative impulses, and sometimes reckless decisions.

The world hasn’t always been kind to unusual women, but through Megan Mayhew Bergman’s alluring depictions they finally receive the attention they deserve. Almost Famous Women is a gorgeous collection from an “accomplished writer of short fiction” (Booklist).
Choose a format:
  • Scribner | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476786568 | 
  • January 2015
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List Price $25.00
Ships on or around January 6, 2015

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Almost Famous Women 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.


In this collection of brilliantly written and cleverly imagined stories, Megan Mayhew Bergman brings to life women who have become footnotes in history. Fiercely independent, frequently eccentric, they are women who chose unconventional paths and achieved fame, however briefly. The stories in Almost Famous Women explore the choices these women made and the costs of their bravery and recklessness.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. In “The Pretty, Grown-Together Children,” how is Daisy’s insistence that she narrate the story and Violet’s acquiescence representative of the sisters’ relationship?

2. Discuss Georgie’s perception of her relationship with Joe Carstairs in “The Siege at Whale Cay.” In what ways does Marlene’s visit cast doubts? Given Georgie’s understanding that “life with Joe never lasts” (p. 33), why does she remain on Whale Cay? What do you imagine Georgie’s future holds?

3. Why is Norma, of “Norma Millay’ see more

More Books from this Author

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About the Author

Megan Mayhew Bergman
photo by Bo Bergman

Megan Mayhew Bergman

Megan Mayhew Bergman grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and attended Wake Forest University. She has graduate degrees from Duke University and Bennington College. Her first collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, was one of Huffington Post's Best Books of 2012. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Best American Short Stories, New Stories from the South, Ploughshares, Tin House, and Oxford American, among other publications. She writes a sustainability column for Salon and lives on a small farm in Vermont with her veterinarian husband, two daughters, four dogs, four cats, goats, and chickens.




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