BKMT READING GUIDES

The Dilemma
by B. A. Paris

Published: 2020-06-30
Hardcover : 352 pages
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A woman's birthday party takes a dark turn in a poignant, heart-stopping new novel from the reigning queen of suspense, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, and Bring Me ...
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Introduction

A woman's birthday party takes a dark turn in a poignant, heart-stopping new novel from the reigning queen of suspense, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, The Breakdown, and Bring Me Back.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

Livia


It’s the cooling bathwater that wakes me. Disorientated, I sit up quickly, splashing suds up the sides, wondering how long I’ve been asleep. I release the plug and the drain gurgles, a too-loud sound in a silent house. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. When did you first start to suspect that Marnie wouldn’t
make it to Livia’s party? When did you first guess why not?

2. Intergenerational relationships play a large role in this
novel. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Which
relationships most closely mirror one another? How does
Marnie’s relationship with Rob upend not only these close
relationships, but the generational divide that’s necessarily
a part of them?

3. Despite Marnie’s final fate—and the statue her father
planned to carve for her—The Dilemma makes it clear that
she was no angel. Does her affair change the way you see
her? How does it complicate the narrative?

4. Throughout The Dilemma, there are multiple instances of
two people having a conversation, or overhearing one, in
which they believe they’re on the same page, but in reality
are talking about entirely different things. How does the
idea of communication—and miscommunication—play
into the themes of the novel as a whole?

5. In the first pages, Livia says, “Once she’s back, everything
will change and we’ll no longer be able to live the lovely life
we’ve been living,” and there’s an echo of that statement
near the end: “I wanted to be able to carry on living the life
I was living.” This must be a devastating thought for Livia to
look back on. How did reading it affect you? Do you agree
with Livia’s guilt in this moment, for thinking that in the
first place?

6. In the end, the secret about Rob and Marnie’s affair remains
hidden from almost everyone. What does the revelation
of one of the novel’s huge secrets and the subsequent
continued confidentiality of the affair say about the nature
of secrets? Do you think the choice they made is ultimately
more helpful or more hurtful?

7. Can you understand the choice Adam made? Do you agree
with Livia’s decision to forgive him? Put yourself in their
shoes. Would you have made the same choice as Adam?
Could you have forgiven a loved one for making that
same choice?

8. In Adam’s chapter that runs from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., he is
preparing to tell Livia what has happened to Marnie when
he thinks instead, “these might be her last few moments of
happiness.” Ultimately, do you think the choice Adam made
to keep this secret was brave or selfish?

9. If you’ve read B. A. Paris’s other novels, you’ll note that The
Dilemma is a departure from her usual genre, psychological
thrillers. How did you find this novel different from her
previous books? In what ways is it similar?

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