The Sunday Wife - Reading Guide
1. What is a Sunday wife? What makes a "good" one? Consider whether
or not Dean fits the bill, and explain your reasoning.
2. How does the prologue introduce you to the book's themes?
3. Who is the narrator and is this narrator reliable? Explore what
the book would have been like if Ben had been the narrator. Consider
how the story would unfold if one of the other characters were
4. What is the role of religion in The Sunday Wife? How does it
frame -- or anchor -- the story? Share who you believe holds the
book's moral center, and why?
5. Discuss the different social issues and dilemmas that King weaves
throughout -- like same-sex marriage, psychic healing, book banning
and adultery -- and examine why she uses them to tell this story.
6. Were you surprised at Dean's early admission that she and Ben
don't share a bedroom? What kind of relationship does this lead you
to believe that they have? Looking at Ben and Dean's exchange on
pages 112-113, what kind of person is Dean with her husband?
7. When Dean succeeds in cultivating a friendship with Augusta and
Maddox, why isn't Ben ecstatic? Explore whether or not Augusta
causes a rift between Ben and Dean. Is Dean and Ben's relationship
already coming apart? Why does Augusta tell Dean, "You're not the
woman you appear to be"? (page 116)
8. How are Dean and Augusta alike? What are your impressions of
them? Thinking about Ben and Maddox, discuss their similarities and
differences and what kind of men you think they are, and why.
9. Look at the name choices and the character traits the names
imply. How do names influence the reader's perception of the
10. On page 61, Dean and Augusta talk about fate vs. determination
and choice. Share whether or not you believe, as Augusta does, that
there are unseen forces that determine our fate. Why? How do
Augusta's beliefs fit with what happens in her life?
11. Explore the turmoil Rich and Godwin's union causes the
community. Why is Ben so upset about Rich and Godwin's union? Why
was he so unsympathetic about Dean being attacked? What would you
say to him if you were Dean?
12. Why does Augusta's affair with John Marcus Vickery upset Dean so
much? Why does Dean say to Augusta, "You've got a child now. Do you
want someone taking advantage of Gus like that?" Is this a valid
argument? On page 249, Augusta says she has a "trump card." What did
you think she was talking about when she said this? What does the
trump card turn out to be?
13. Discuss the conversation between Dean and Vickery that begins on
page 237. Do you think Vickery is being honest -- or flirtatious?
Why are so many people drawn to Vickery, and to Ben? On page 239,
Vickery says to Dean, "Ben is going to lose you." Why would he
presume to say so? Do you think Dean had any notion of leaving Ben
at this point?
14. What, if any, is the symbolism of Augusta going over the Crystal
River Bridge? (page 260) How do you react to Dean's not even
thinking of Ben during the morning after Augusta dies? Do you feel
sorry for Vickery not having anyone to grieve with? Did he really
15. Would you have given Augusta's note to her husband or hidden
from him it like Dean did? Discuss why Dean does this and whether or
not she was protecting Maddox. What are the consequences of Dean's
actions? Why does Maddox get so angry when he finally reads the