Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for A Hidden Affair includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Pam Jenoff. 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.
Former intelligence officer Jordan Weiss has embarked on the most important mission of her life: to locate a man she believed died ten years ago. Still reeling from the betrayal of her colleagues at the State Department and the revelation that her college boyfriend, Jared, is alive, she sets out on her own to find him.
1. What compels
2. “The fact that Jared is alive means that the past ten years of my life, every thought I had and decision I made, was predicated upon a flawed assumption” (pg 22), says Jordan. In what ways did her belief that Jared was dead affect her life and the choices she made, both personally and professionally?
4. Why is
5. Jordan and Jared were college sweethearts, together for less than three months before his presumed death. Would their relationship have withstood the test of time? Why or why not? Who is the better romantic partner for Jordan, Jared or Aaron?
6. Discuss the historical and political aspects of the novel, including how wine was used during World War II. Regarding
7. “[Jared] has the life that I do not, that I could not have while I was eternally grieving for him. I feel angry and foolish at the same time” (pg 225), admits
10. How compelling did you find the suspense aspect of the storyline? Were you able to predict any plot turns, or did the author keep you guessing until the end?
11. Have you read Almost Home, the prequel to A Hidden Affair? If so, what are your thoughts on the continuation of
Enhance Your Book Club
Wine features prominently in the storyline of A Hidden Affair. Discuss the novel over a bottle of your favorite vintage, hold your meeting at a wine bar, or take a tour of a local vineyard.
At one point in the story
Along with A Hidden Affair, read and discuss Almost Home, the first novel featuring Jordan Weiss.
Visit www.pamjenoff.com to learn more about the author and her books.
A Conversation with Pam Jenoff
Q: A pivotal aspect of the plot is the use of wine during World War II. How did you discover this fascinating fact? What sort of historical research did you do for the novel?
A: I knew that I wanted the book to have a World War II back story, and some of the possible angles I considered, like Nazi gold, seemed to have been covered a lot previously in other books. I found an article on wine counterfeiting which got me started thinking about using wine generally, and then I found a fascinating book, Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure, which provided lots of historical background which I used as a starting point.
Q: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy feature in the storyline of A Hidden Affair. Are you a fan of Tolkien’s novels? What are some of your favorite books and authors?
A: I adore Tolkien but I wasn’t introduced to his work until college, when someone read me the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy aloud, and I took a course on the writings of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Some of my favorite authors presently include Tracy Chevalier, Anita Shreve, Barbara Kingsolver, Laura Lipman, and Kate Atkinson.
Q: “Despite the advances that women have made in the profession, it’s still not as easy for a female diplomat to find a partner who is willing to forgo his own career to follow her around the world as it is for her male counterparts,” you write in the novel (pg 179). Having worked for the State Department, as did Jordan, what can you tell us about some of the other challenges that women diplomats face?
A: I think women diplomats have made great strides, but they still face cultural barriers when working in countries where women are perhaps not as readily accepted in the professional world or where women’s roles in society may be more limited. But I didn’t experience these challenges firsthand – my most vexing experience as a female diplomat was once being asked out on a date, only to discover that the person who invited me really wanted to ask for a visa to America!
A: I would collectively choose my grandparents because three of the four passed away when I was very young and I didn’t get to have the time with them that I would have liked. (Seeing my son spend a ton of time with his grandparents is one of the great joys of my life.)
Q: You were a graduate student at
A: Though I’ve never lived in the places
Q: A point of contention between Jordan and Aaron is their difference of opinion about the actions of the Poles during World War II. Did living and working in
A: Yes, definitely. During my years in
Q: How do you successfully balance your two careers as a novelist and a lawyer? What time management secrets can you share?
A: I decided to get serious about writing a novel following the events of
I’ve used the early morning timeframe to write for many years since. I often say that I’m tired and grumpy, meaning I go to bed early and don’t go out nights much or take on other commitments that interfere with my writing time. I’m no longer at the firm, but I still have the day job teaching law school and growing family commitments, and I still fit in the writing in the hour or two in between. It isn’t always easy or pretty and there are certainly days when I fail, but I always come back to it and that’s what has kept me in this game. I would suggest to others: Figure out when you can carve out that hour or two of writing time a day, then protect it zealously. You must pay yourself first and schedule that time or life’s commitments will run over it.
Q: What do you most enjoy about writing romantic suspense novels? Have you ever considered writing legal thrillers, given that you’re a practicing lawyer?
A: The thing I like about romantic suspense is that there are two stories going on at once, the romantic relationship between the characters and the challenges they face as part of the suspense. Putting those two elements together in a way that works is tremendously challenging and rewarding.
I think it takes me a really long time to process the life experiences that contribute to my work. My experiences in
Q: When you began writing A Hidden Affair, did you know how the story would end for
A: It unfurled as I wrote. I generally have some idea where I want the book to go, but I’m always surprised where it ultimately winds up and the twists and turns it takes along the way.
Q: What are you working on now? Will there be any future adventures for
A: I’m wrapping up a novel called The Anniversary Clock. It’s the story of Charlotte, an attorney, who along with her ex-boyfriend’s brother Jack, gets pulled into defending an accused Nazi collaborator. The key to his guilt or innocence lies with an antique timepiece (we see the clock at various points throughout its history in twentieth century