Reading guide for Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Matrimony

A Novel

by Joshua Henkin

Matrimony by Joshua Henkin X
Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2007, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2008, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  • Discuss the parent-child relationships in the novel. How much are the lives of Julian, Mia and Carter a rejection of their parents’ lives? Despite how much they try to get away from the patterns of their parents, are they successful? Also consider Professor Chesterfield as a replacement father figure for Julian. What role does genetics play in the parent-child relationships?

  • In a book about a writer, what effect does the autobiographical component have on the story? Julian's desire to be a writer is a catalyst that drives the narrative. What does the novel say about the writer's life?

  • As Julian tried to comfort Mia when her mother was sick, Mia "felt her heart beat against him like something caged in, wings batting, slapping against themselves."What does this say about their relationship, and how is it reflected in their marriage?

  • Discuss the marriage of Julian and Mia. How do they complement each other (or not)?

  • How much is Julian’s life ruled by the following idea: "Julian already felt, moments after graduating from college, that he was letting people down"? Consider which of Julian's decisions are either passive or made in order to please others.

  • Consider the following two quotations about Mia: "She felt suddenly that they weren't her friends, that despite all the time they’d spent together, they'd never really cared about her." "She felt desperate for him to know her better, felt a conviction that despite having been with her for three years, he didn’t apprehend her at all."Are Mia's fears rational, or justified?

  • Mia and Julian were prompted to get married because of her mom’s cancer, and then Mia's own cancer scare seems to push them into the decision to have children. Is this a good way to run a marriage? What is Henkin telling us about adult decisions and consequences?

  • Examine the trajectory of Carter and Pilar's relationship. What does it say about them?

  • Discuss the relationship between Carter and Julian. What does each of them bring to the friendship, and how do they affect each other's lives? Discuss the relationship between Mia and Pilar. In what ways are both of these relationships competitive? How are they each rivals?

  • The novel is structured around place. What is the significance of the college town? How do the different locales affect the couples?

  • How does the stress of choosing schooling and careers affect these couples?

  • Issues of money come up between both of the couples. What does the novel tell us about the role of money in marriages and in society? What role does class play in the characters' relationships and careers?

  • 13. At the end of the novel, Julian forgives Carter. Do you agree with his decision?

  • Compare and contrast all of the couples in the novel (married and not). In total, what does the novel tell us about matrimony?

  • Novels about relationships are usually the terrain of women, but Matrimony is written by a man. How much does the gender of the author influence the narrative?

  • What is the role or importance of religion with these couples? Mia is Jewish but only seems to grasp at it during crucial times.

  • How does divorce play into the novel? Do you think it’s traumatic for children no matter what age they are?

  • Discuss the infidelities in the novel. What role does betrayal play with these characters and in their marriages/relationships?

Suggested Reading
The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto
The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
Light Years by James Salter
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie

Movie to Watch
The Big Chill


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Vintage. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    by Kristin Harmel
    Kristin Harmel's historical novel The Forest of Vanishing Stars was very well-received by our First ...
  • Book Jacket: African Europeans
    African Europeans
    by Olivette Otele
    The nexus of Africans and Europeans is not a recent historical development. Rather, the peoples of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Killing Hills
    The Killing Hills
    by Chris Offutt
    The personified hills of the novel's title foreshadow the mood of this brooding and ominous tale. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Vixen
    The Vixen
    by Francine Prose
    Recent Harvard graduate Simon Putnam has been rejected from grad school and has thus returned to his...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Little Hopes
by Leah Weiss
A Southern story of friendship forged by books and bees, in the murky shadows of World War II.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    by Kristin Harmel

    An evocative coming-of-age World War II story from the author of The Book of Lost Names.

  • Book Jacket

    The Temple House Vanishing
    by Rachel Donohue

    A modern gothic page-turner set in a Victorian mansion in Ireland.

Win This Book!
Win Gordo

Gordo by Jaime Cortez

"Dark and hilarious ... singular and soaring ... Hands down, top debut of 2021."—Literary Hub

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

N Say N

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.