The Queen of Cups - a novel by  Mina Samuels

Book Club Guide

Attending book clubs is great. As a writer it is fascinating to hear what other people have to say about my book. I am always learning new things about my novel, because everybody sees different things in the story, often things I wasn't even conscious of when I was writing the book. If I can, I will come to your book club, or attend via speaker phone. Email me at:

The Queen of Cups takes place in the mid to late nineteenth century. How is Juliette's story a product of her era? How is it timeless?

The story begins at the end, as Juliette, aging and alone after Charles' death, writes in her journal. How did knowing the end color your experience of her story? How is the narrative tension maintained? In what ways does the first person voice limit or expand the story?

How does Marie's painting shape her character?

What relationships do you see between the characters of Madame and Monsieur Gautier and the broad issues of the book?

When Juliette (as Marie) is banished, she loses her sister's friendship and is left alone in the world. What is the lasting impact of this loss?

Once Juliette is in New York her past is a secret to everyone except the reader. Why do you think this narrative device was used? In what ways did it affect your reading?

When Juliette reads the Tarot cards for Charles she sees herself in the Queen of Cups card. Does she fulfill the role? How does the title of the novel affect your view of Juliette?

Several times during the story—when Charles and Juliette are first together in the White Mountains, when Juliette visits Charles in New York, in Baltimore, and at the end of the book—Charles suffers debilitating mood swings which he takes out in some form on Juliette. Why does Juliette stay with him? Is she right to stay with him? Does she enable his illnesses?

In the fictional opening remarks to the historical society, Elizabeth Godfrey talks about historians who have blamed Juliette for Charles' failures. What do you think? Does Juliette bear some of the blame for Charles' problems?

How does it affect your experience of the novel to know that many of the characters actually existed and many of the events actually happened?

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©2009 Mina Samuels