Reading guide for Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone

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Two Nights in Lisbon

A Novel

by Chris Pavone

Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone X
Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone
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  • First Published:
    May 2022, 448 pages

    May 2023, 448 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Tina Choi
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. The novelist Lisa Lutz describes Two Nights in Lisbon as "a total barn burner, with twisty surprises from start to finish." The book ends with a few spectacular twists. Did you see any of these coming? When? Based on what clues? Were you satisfied with the way the author wrapped up the story?
  2. The novelist Lee Child says this book is "timely, important, layered with ticking suspense." The plot and characters definitely have a few parallels with recent important events and people in American life. How do you feel about this commentary? Does it enhance the reading experience for you? Do you prefer fiction to be a total escape from reality, or a reflection of it?
  3. The novelist Megan Abbott describes Two Nights in Lisbon as having "true moral heft." One of the factual underpinnings of the novel is the American criminal justice system's consistent failure to return guilty verdicts for sexual assaults. What do you think can be done about this societal problem? How do you feel about the morality of the fictional solution presented in this novel? Do you believe that nondisclosure agreements are moral in such cases, or do they present a significant obstacle to justice?
  4. The structure alternates between Ariel's present search for her husband in Lisbon and her life in New York in the past. Did learning about Ariel's past help you better understand her current actions? Did your feelings about Ariel change as you learned more about her history?
  5. The novelist Cristina Alger praised Two Nights in Lisbon, saying that Chris Pavone "once again marries an explosive plot with an intimate and nuanced exploration of a marriage and the secrets we keep from those we love the most." What did you think of Ariel and John as a couple? Were they good partners to each other? How did your understanding of their marriage evolve over the course of the book?
  6. The novelist John Grisham said of Two Nights in Lisbon, "This is smart suspense at its very best...The plot is too devious, the pace is too gripping, and the characters are seldom who they are supposed to be." Were there any characters you found particularly compelling? Which of their secrets did you find to be the most surprising?
  7. When Ariel discovers that her husband is missing, did you think she was overreacting? What would you have done differently? What did you think had happened to John?
  8. Chris Pavone is a man, and this book's protagonist is a woman. Do you think Pavone was successful at capturing the female point of view? Where do you think he made missteps? Are there other male novelists who have written successfully from the female point of view, or vice versa? Do you believe that an author's gender, race, ethnicity, or any other factors should limit their authority in writing from certain points of view?
  9. The novelist Maggie Shipstead wrote about Two Nights in Lisbon that "the plot grips; the characters breathe, the gorgeous setting entices." Does the setting of this book make you want to visit Lisbon, or the opposite? Does fiction ever make you want to go somewhere? Do you ever actually go? Have any books made you fall in love with a place?
  10. This is Pavone's fifth novel; each of his books includes characters who overlap with at least one other book. Do you know which character(s) in Two Nights in Lisbon appear in another of his books? How do you feel about this sort of universe?

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

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