Reading guide for A False Sense of Well Being by Jeanne Braselton

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

A False Sense of Well Being

by Jeanne Braselton

A False Sense of Well Being by Jeanne Braselton X
A False Sense of Well Being by Jeanne Braselton
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2002, 368 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!

  1. The novel opens with Jessie Maddox having fantasies of her husband's untimely death, either by fate or by accident. What has happened in her life to cause this? What do you think she would do, and how would she react, if her fantasies were to come true? Do you ever have similar thoughts about those you love? If so, examine the way your innermost thoughts often conflict with what you believe you want in life.
     
  2. Jessie is the one telling her story. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Jessie's first-person narration? Do you think she's able to remain objective when discussing her unhappiness, or when describing her family and friends? How would the novel be different if it were narrated by her husband Turner?
     
  3. Jessie talks about wanting the perfect marriage and the perfect home. She subscribes to House Beautiful, Southern Living, and Psychology Today, trying to copy decorating ideas and lifestyle tips. She joins the Glenville Society Cotillion, and she and her husband are members of the local country club. Discuss how Jessie is influenced by what she reads in books and magazines, or sees in movies, and how her expectations of love and marriage may be unrealistic. Do you know people who do the same thing? How has she, as she admits, worked to create the life she always dreamed of having? How much of Jessie's dilemma do you believe is based on her desire to keep up with what society expects of her?
     
  4. We know Turner only from the details Jessie reveals, and from the few scenes where he appears. What do you think of him as a husband, and what about Turner hasn't Jessie told us? Do you believe he loves Jessie? What could he be doing to help her through this crisis? Do you think he realizes how unhappy Jessie is? Consider reading Gustave Flaubert's classic novel Madame Bovary, and discuss the similarities and the differences between the characters and the plots of Madame Bovary and A False Sense of Well Being.
     
  5. Is Jessie experiencing a typical midlife crisis? If so, what do you believe she should be doing to work through it? If not, what do you think triggered the wave of self-doubt and self-examination she's having? Discuss any time in your life when you may have felt the same way.
     
  6. The novel uses passages from The Book of Common Prayer to introduce certain chapters. Why do you think the author chose The Book of Common Prayer, and what is the significance of each passage to the story that follows? Do you think Jessie, or any of the characters, find any comfort in the passages and prayers that are presented?
     
  7. As a social worker at a mental health clinic, Jessie talks about the power of confession, and wonders if her clients are helped by telling her their secrets. Do you believe confession, as the saying goes, is good for the soul? How do you feel about Jessie as a therapist? Do you think she's helped by the confessions she makes to her friends and family? Discuss how the power of confession is the novel's central theme.
     
  8. Unlike many contemporary novels, in which the male characters are the ones making bad decisions, having affairs, or leaving home, it's the women in this novel who are the ones doing all the misbehaving. What is the significance of this? Discuss the choices these women make and how these choices affect their lives. Are the women who are having affairs or running away from home behaving, in a sense, like men? Do you believe--as does the self-help writer that Jessie listens to on tape--that men and women want the same things but have trouble communicating their wants and needs to each other? Discuss the changing roles of women over the past few decades, and how this has affected the traditional ideas of marriage and family.
     
  9. Jessie and her friend Donna have different ways of looking at things, especially marriage. Jessie says, in fact, that she feels like she can live vicariously through Donna, because of Donna's affair

From the Trade Paperback edition. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Vintage Books.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Ballantine Books. 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: Skinship
    Skinship
    by Yoon Choi
    The fine thing about short stories in general is their way of following characters through ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Mona Lisa
    by Jonathan Santlofer
    In 1911, the Mona Lisa disappeared from its home at the Louvre in Paris. It took two years for the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Women of Troy
    The Women of Troy
    by Pat Barker
    Set in the liminal days following the Trojan War, The Women of Troy follows Briseis, who the reader ...
  • Book Jacket: The Magician
    The Magician
    by Colm Toibin
    Thomas Mann — the subject of this biographical novel by Colm Tóibín — is ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Morningside Heights
by Joshua Henkin
A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Flesh & Blood
    by N. West Moss

    This beautifully written memoir offers insight, understanding, and joy.

Win This Book!
Win Sisters of the Great War

Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman

A powerful novel of two unconventional American sisters who volunteer at the front during World War I.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y A B Up T W T

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.