The Chrysanthemum Palace

The Chrysanthemum Palace

A Novel

  • reading group guide
Bertie Krohn, only child of Perry Krohn -- creator of TV's longest running space opera, Starwatch: The Navigators -- recounts the story of the last months in the lives of his two friends: Thad Michelet, author, actor, and son of a literary titan; and Clea

Freemantle, emotionally fragile daughter of a legendary movie star. Scions of entertainment greatness, they call themselves the Three Musketeers. As the incestuous clique attempts to scale the peaks claimed by their sacred yet monstrous parents during the filming of a Starwatch episode, Bertie scrupulously chronicles their futile struggles against the ravenous, narcissistic, and addicted Hollywood that claims them.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743243407 | 
  • March 2006
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide for The Chrysanthemum Palace
  1. Describe Bertie's character. How has his past as the child of a renowned television show creator and producer affected him? What do you think of the relationship he has with his parents, in particular his father? How has this essential relationship shaped his relationships throughout the book? What is your overall opinion of Bertie?
  2. "It's funny what draws us to people; funny we don't often see the design of it." What draws Bertie to Thad? What about Thad intrigues and confounds Bertie? Do the two men share anything in common? Do you think Bertie comes to understand Thad throughout the story and does he ultimately forgive Thad for his final offense against Clea? What was your initial reaction to Thad and did it change by the end of the novel?
  3. Discuss Thad's story about the time machine model. What does this story in particular reveal about Thad? Aside from the memory of playing time machine with his deceased brother, what do the time machine and Thad's subsequent belief that he imagined the whole story symbolize?
  4. Bertie says of his relationship with Clea:
    "We were like bystanders you see on television after a suicide bomb attacks, numbly clutching each other in front of splintered buses and orphaned cell phones. I get it. This is how it's always been and always would be between us."
    Discuss how this notion is illustrated throughout the book. Why do you think the bond betw
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About the Author

Bruce Wagner
Photo Credit:

Bruce Wagner

Bruce Wagner is the author of The Chrysanthemum Palace (a PEN Faulkner fiction award finalist); Still Holding; I'll Let You Go (a PEN USA fiction award finalist); I'm Losing You; and Force Majeure. He lives in Los Angeles.

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