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Chanel Bonfire

Chanel Bonfire

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
  • freshman reading
In her stunning memoir, Wendy Lawless tells the often heartbreaking tale of her unconventional upbringing with an unstable alcoholic and suicidal mother—a real-life Holly Golightly turned Mommie Dearest—and the uncommon sense of resilience that allowed her to rise above it all.

Georgann Rea didn’t bake cookies or go to PTA meetings; she wore a mink coat and always had a lit Dunhill plugged into her cigarette holder. She’d slept with too many men and a few women, and she didn’t like dogs or chil­dren. Georgann possessed the icy beauty of a Hitchcock heroine with the cold heart to match.

From living at the Dakota in 1960s Manhattan to London’s swinging town houses and beyond, Wendy Lawless and her younger sister navigated day-to-day life as their unstable and fabulously neglectful mother, Georgann, chased her delusions, suffered dramatic breakdowns, and survived suicide attempts. With clear-eyed grace and flashing wit, Lawless portrays the highs and lows of her unhinged upbringing—and how she survived her mother’s endlessly destructive search for glamour and fulfillment—in “a searing memoir that reads like a novel” (Anne Korkeakivi, An Unexpected Guest).
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  • Gallery Books | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476745480 | 
  • November 2013
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Chanel Bonfire includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Wendy Lawless. 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.


Introduction

In this strikingly honest memoir, actress Wendy Lawless shares the often-heartbreaking story of her childhood with an alcoholic and suicidal mother—equal parts Holly Golightly and Mommie Dearest—and the extraordinary resilience that allowed her to rise above it all.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Why do you suppose Wendy Lawless chose to open Chanel Bonfire with her mother’s first suicide attempt? What does this scene reveal about Georgann, as well as about nine-year-old Wendy and her younger sister, Robin?

2. When Wendy and Robin were children, Georgann told them about her abusive upbringing in the form of a bedtime story. Did knowing about her traumatic past make you more sympathetic? Why or why not? Do you think Georgann had any redeeming qualities as a mother? How do you think Wendy and Robin would answer this question?

3. Why did Wendy decide to contact her father after not seeing him for a decade? Given the circumstances, do you think James see more

Articles About This Book

About the Author

Wendy Lawless
© Dana Patrick

Wendy Lawless

Wendy Lawlessis an actress who has appeared on television, in regional theater, Off-Broadway in David Ives’s Obie-winning play All in the Timing and on Broadway in The Heidi Chronicles. Her work has appeared in Redbook magazine, on Powells.com, and in the local Los Angeles press. She lives in California with her screenwriter husband and their two children.

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