Synopses & Reviews
A compelling and moving story about contemporary relationships, this novel marks the American debut of a bestselling author in the UK. Original.
About the Author
Tess Stimon is the author of three previous novels and one biography, and writes regularly for UK newspapers and womens magazines. Born and brought up in Sussex, England, she graduated from Oxford University before spending a number of years working in Europe, Cyprus, and Lebanon as a TV news producer with ITN (UK) and CNN. She now lives in Florida with her American husband, their daughter and two sons.
Reading Group Guide
1. Consider the trio of voices the author uses in the narrative. How would the novel have been different if the story were told from only one characters point of view?
2. “Its not that I have a particular moral thing about affairs with married men, though its not something Id shout from the rooftops. But at the end of the day, theyre the ones cheating, not you,” (chapter 2). Discuss Sara, specifically her belief stated here. Do you agree that because shes not married, shes not doing anything wrong by having an affair with a man who is?
3. “Im shocked. I would never have thought-he doesnt seem the type,” (chapter 2). What did you think of Nicholas? Did you expect hed be capable of cheating on Malinche? Are there clues or traits about a man that suggest he might cheat?
4. Does Kits friendship hurt or help Malinche? Why does Nicholas dislike him so much?
5. Sara asserts, “A man who cheats with you will cheat on you,” (chapter 2). Nicholas muses, “Is there a gene to infidelity, like those for red hair or big feet?” (chapter 13). For a man, is it a foregone conclusion that once he cheats, its something hes destined to do again and again?
6. “I dont want this. I love my wife. I love my wife,” (chapter 7). Why do you think Nicholas ultimately gives in to Sara?
7. As she witnesses the daughter of a family neighbor hitting on her father, Sara disparages Libby as being a “little tart” and a “homewrecker” (chapter 5). Why is Sara not able to turn such a similar, and harsh, spotlight on herself?
8. “Men give love to get sex…Women give sex to get love. Theres your battle of the sexes right there,” (chapter 11). Is lust purely a mans domain, while love is a womans?
9. “Kit, I kissed another man! And whats worse, I enjoyed it!” (chapter 12). Countering Malinches self-pity, Kit argues that kissing does not constitute adultery; sex is the line to be crossed. What do you think; is one of these acts a bigger betrayal than the other?
10. Discuss Malinches renewed relationship with Trace, especially the timing of it. In your opinion, did her actions constitute adultery?
11. What do you think of the ending? Was it a surprise? Did you wish the book ended differently?
12. Answer the question the books subtitle poses: “A wife. A husband. A mistress. Whose side will you be on?”
Nicholas is not the type who would cheat. Why would he? He loves his wife, is devoted to their daughters, and as a divorce attorney he sees infidelitys devastation at play in every case he takes on. Sara, a young associate in Nicholass firm, doesnt think Nicholas is the type to cheat, either-and that makes her even more determined to seduce him. Although their relationship isnt as passionate as it was when they were first married, Nicholass wife, Malinche, believes she and Nicholas are content, but when her old flame reappears Malinche faces her own test. Told in the engrossing voices of the three people at the corners of this love triangle, and imbued with real-life emotion, The Adultery Club
will leave readers pondering the complexity of love and examining their own values.
In the Know magazine calls The Adultery Club “the perfect book to make you debate...a novel about cheating that challenges the reader to pick sides,” and the questions below are designed to assist your book groups sure-to-be-lengthy discussion of this smart and thought-provoking book.
A Q&A with author Tess Stimson on her new book, The Adultery Club
You are having tea or coffee (or a gin&tonic!) with one of your favorite authors. Who is it, and what would you ask that author if you only got to ask him/her one question?
Jane Austen. I love the precision and satire of her writing. She’s been one of my favourite authors since I first read Pride & Prejudice at the age of ten. I’d love to know what she thinks of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy!
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about having a book published?
How involved readers become with my characters. I’ve had many emails and letters asking me what happens to them after the book ends; so much so, that occasionally I bring one of them back in a subsequent book in a cameo role.
What’s your typical writing day like? And what environment is most conducive to your process?
I have three children, so I write for six or seven hours straight when they’re at school. But I usually write plot outlines late at night, once they’re in bed, because that seems to be when my brain is firing most imaginatively. I have to have a clear, uncluttered desk, and I drink tea by the gallon when I’m writing—must be my English genes!
Can you name the first book you read that inspired you in some special way? Why?
When I was six, I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. I adored it, and spent many happy but frustrating hours trying to climb into the back of a wardrobe. I knew then I wanted to create a whole different world like that myself one day. I haven’t quite managed that, but at least I am a writer!
Many writing experts advise “write about what you know.” Do you agree with this? And what practical advice would you give an aspiring author?
I think the most important element of any book is the characters, and to make them real, you have to know people. Anything else can be researched—you can visit a place, or look up a detail on the internet. But knowing people is trickier. I’d tell any aspiring author to observe, observe, observe. Take notes about interesting people you see: the way they behave, and why.
Which came first: the characters, or the storyline?
The two evolve together for me; I have characters in my head whose story I don’t yet know, and plot ideas that are as yet unpeopled. Once I start working on a book, the two somewhow come together; the plot grows out of the characters and their actions.
If we asked your best friend to describe you in 3 words what would they be? What if we asked you?
My best friend would describe me as intelligent, high-maintenance and funny. Let’s stick with her viewpoint….!
Is there something in your Bantam Discovery Novel that you are particularly proud, or happy, about?
I love that everyone has a different view of The Adultery Club depending on whose side they’re on! Wives support Mal, girlfriends support Sara….It means I’ve done my job, which was to make all three central protagonists sympathetic. I wanted to show how nothing is ever black and white, and that most of us live in that vast grey area in the middle.
Can you tell us about the book you are working on now?
My next book is called The Infidelity Chain. It follows five characters who are caught up in the midst of an eight-year affair, and traces their interlinked stories. I think it’s the next logical step on from The Adultery Club, and I’m really happy with the way it’s working.
When you finish writing your answers to this Q&A, what will you do next?
Make a cup of tea!