The Love Wife

Author: Gish Jen May 2, 2017

Join us Thursday, May 25th at 10:30 in The Resource Center to discuss the east-west culture gap as it is depicted in the novel The Love Wife by Gish Jen. In the novel, Chinese- American Carnegie Wong and his American wife (nicknamed “Blondie” by Carnegie’s disapproving Chinese mother) try to balance busy careers with the demands of parenting two adopted teenage daughters and one baby son.  Then, when Carnegie’s mainland Chinese relative Lan Lan arrives to help as a nanny,  we get a humorous, poignant and surprising story about this particular extended family as well as about how contrasting cultural expectations and experiences challenge identity.

Some Discussion Questions:

  1. Did you find the alternating point-of-view to be effective? Why do you suppose Gish Jen decided to narrate in this style?
  2. Does any one voice dominate the narration, or do you think the characters are equally portrayed?
  3. Would a reader’s experience, gender, or background influence which character he/she sympathizes with most, in your opinion?
  4. Why is the novel called The Love Wife?
  5. Why, in your view, do Wendy and Lizzy bond so quickly and deeply to Lan? Explain.
  6. What does Lan’s involvement with Jeb Su and Shang reveal about her?
  7. Did you like the ending? What is happening at the end?
  8. Do any of the characters change and grow over the course of the novel? Explain.
  9. Why is Blondie’s friendship with Gabriela highlighted and included, do you think?
  10. Describe Mama Wong’s role in the story.
  11. Gish Jen’s newest book Girl at the Baggage Claim has as its subtitle Explaining the East-West Culture Gap. In what ways does this novel depict that culture gap?