Synopses & Reviews
Spirited, successful Venus Johnston is back--in the long-awaited sequel to "Nappily Ever After," one woman's happy, lighthearted story of giving in instead of giving up.
About the Author
1. The novel opens with Venus recurring nightmare: she is abandoned on her wedding day when Clint is lured away by a glamorous actress who tells him, “You know you need a real woman, someone whos going to love you and take care of you and put you first at all times.” Is Venus afraid that she is truly incapable of putting someone first, or merely afraid that Clint thinks so? Why do you think this dream features Clint rather than Airic as the groom?
2. Venus does not hesitate to take the job in Los Angeles, and, in fact, is packed and ready to roll when she springs the news on Airic. However, she is irritated that Airic does not put up a fight. He is “a little too excited for her taste.…Part of her wanted him to throw drama, plead for her to stay, maybe even pout a little. What would it hurt to show that he cared, needed her? He didnt always have to be so understanding, so mature.” What does this double standard tell you about Venus? Would she have cancelled her plans if Airic had begged her to?
3. How much of Jakes allure is due to the fact that he is a refreshing, baggage-free distraction from Venus family crisis? How does Thomas set up tension with her descriptions of Jake? Are you surprised to find him a trustworthy, loveable character by the end?
4. Venus is deeply conflicted about her career: “What was she doing here in Los Angeles? Shed asked herself that question numerous times. Her answer always straight from the pages of Essence, O, and New Woman…unleashing her career potential, setting goals and overcoming fears. She was, after all, the Millennium woman…Underneath it all, she simply wanted to be loved...A husband, a baby, a home with a cuddly little dog.” Is Thomas suggesting that some women are pressured by the media to strive for career success against their own gut instincts? To what extent do you think magazines like Essence and O affect womens ideas, both positively and negatively, about what they should be doing with their lives?
5. How do you explain Venus fury at her mothers doctor? Are her feelings directed at the illness itself? The medical field for being inadequate to the task? Her mother for being mortal, or possibly passing a flawed gene on to her? Is any of this emotion aimed at Clint?
6. Alienated from her parents and confused about her men, Venus ends up relying on the kindness of strangers. Who helps her in unexpected ways? What point do you think Thomas is making with these encounters?
7. What is the significance of Venus memory about her college boyfriend, Tony, and the tumultuous end of their relationship? What fears about herself does this memory dredge up?
8. When Jake turns on the charm during their first meeting, Venus acknowledges, “the fun was always in the chase.” When she feels overwhelmed by his ardor, she admits, “She was used to doing the chasing, being the one who wanted more than she would ever receive.” And when she is late to visit her mother at the hospital, she berates herself: “Always a step behind…a true sign that she was never going to catch whatever she was chasing.” Discuss Venus obsession with “the chase.” Is she able to let go of this cat-and-mouse mentality in the end?
9. Venus tells Jake, “I learned a long time ago not to blame others for my unhappiness, or happiness for that matter. Either way its my responsibility.” Has she internalized this lesson? Where do you see examples of her having achieved this clarity?
10. Henry and Wendy offer Venus clashing advice about her relationship. Henry insists that liking someone (Jake, for instance) takes precedence over loyalty or even love. He tells her that “life is full of risk and danger but living is much more fun,” and urges her to “start taking some chances or you gonna end up unhappy and alone.” Wendy urges her to stay loyal to Airic. “Youd give up a man youve known and loved for someone who just happened to be there to pick up the pieces when you were vulnerable?…[Airic] was there for you…Now you have to stick by him.” Both Henry and Wendy claim to be happily married. Whose advice do you agree with?
11. When Venus confronts Airic about his agonizing secret, she turns the conversation toward herself, rather than comfort him: “I wanted to finally be right, to finally be the person that someone could count on, through thick and thin. I wanted to be that person for you, Airic…Conviction, forgiveness, compassion, whatever its called. I thought you saw that in me. I thought you loved me the same way I loved you. I thought you trusted me.” Is Venus being fair? Is she honestly feeling injured here, or has this situation merely provided her with an easy “out” from the relationship?
12. After all her hard work on the JPWear account, Venus capitulates to “the dynamic duo” during their last meeting in LA, but not until she has a temper tantrum and balls out Legend. This is not her first loss of control in a professional setting. How do you feel about Venus abandoning her career ambitions so quickly, and in such a firestorm?
13. Discuss Airics assessment: “Most people saw what they wanted instead of what was really there. Venus was most people.”
14. Venus is delighted by the sabotage wedding that closes the novel. Is this what she has needed all along in order to make a decision—a forced, public accounting of her own feelings? How would the novel have been different if Venus had freely chosen the timing and circumstance of her wedding?
Reading Group Guide
Venus Johnston is a walking, talking success machine. Shes got the perfect job, the perfect fiancé, and shes on the road to a perfect life, complete with a checklist of perfectly checked-off goals. Sort of. The truth is that a secret, nagging doubt is preventing Venus from setting a wedding date, and when she finds herself hiding the diamond on her left hand from a handsome new partner at work, she realizes that its time to reevaluate her journey before she makes a mess of everything.
Then terrible news throws a wrench in the works. Venus discovers that her mother is battling cancer and suddenly she feels like an angry, scared kid, alone and in need of back-up. And when back-up arrives in an unexpected guise, driving a fast car, Venus faces the challenge of a lifetime. Where does a sister draw the line between love and loyalty, temptation and blessing, happiness and habit, and when is it time for a fresh start in life?
The sassy heroine of Trisha R. Thomass award-winning novel Nappily Ever After is back in this stylish, romantic, and long-awaited sequel. Here is a guide designed to direct your discussion of Would I Lie to You?