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Book Club Discussion Questions

  1. Do you think Crystal made the right choice in deciding to follow Brian to Bangkok? What would her life have been if she had stayed with the children in Pico City?  What would Brian have done in Bangkok?  Would he have taken Judy as a “minor wife”?
  2. Why was Brian able to overcome his upbringing and religion so readily as he continued to see Judy and to lie to Crystal?
  3. Why couldn’t Crystal figure out how to make a life in Bangkok? Was the problem intrinsic to her?  Or was she the victim of circumstances?
  4. If Crystal and Brian had moved to Bangkok today rather than in 1975, would Crystal have been so lonely?
  5. Crystal continued to teach Nit and push her to learn, despite repeated warnings that she shouldn’t get involved with a servant. Was she right to try to help Nit?  Did her American view of equality blind her to the problem?  Was she continuing for her own sake or Nit’s?
  6. Why was Brian so perceptive with respect to his work, but so unperceptive about Crystal’s situation?
  7. Were Crystal and Brian good parents? Are there things they should have done to support their children that they didn’t do?
  8. What insights did Crystal gain during therapy?
  9. Do you think Crystal is happy at the end of the book? Or did she just find ways to be busy?
  10. Are Brian and Crystal really in love with each other at the end of the book, or are one or both of them just accepting and renewing a comfortable and convenient relationship?
  11. What do you think a good relationship within a marriage should be?