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"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart."
- Maya Angelou
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Laws of Motion book cover

Finding Emilie:
Ideas for Book Clubs

If your book club adopts one of my novels, I would be delighted to set up a visit. If you are local to the San Diego area, I may be able to come in person, and for others, I am happy to chat by phone.

I’d love to hear your ideas!  Write to me,, to let me know how your book club meeting went.  Send photos and I’ll post them and your event suggestions on the site.

Discussion Guide:

What does the reader learn about the two great influences on Lili’s life, Baronne Lomont and Julie de Bercy from the letters in the prologue? About the Marquis du Châtelet and his relationship with Emilie?

In your experience, does childhood personality carry over significantly into adult life, as it does with Lili and Delphine?

Lili’s Meadowlark stories reflect her fears and dilemmas. What are some of these, and how do they shape what she writes?

Would you have wanted to be Emilie du Châtelet? What do the episodes from Emilie du Châtelet’s life say about the world of noblewomen in eighteenth-century French society?

During the course of the book, Delphine seems to be particularly victimized by her social environment, but also masterful at triumphing over it. What in her personality and behavior accounts for this? How does Lili’s temperament make her also a victim and victor?

Do the politics and science discussed in Julie’s salon and elsewhere in the novel resonate in our world today?

Were Baronne Lomont and Julie right in keeping so much about Emilie a secret from Lili for such a long time? Would this be handled differently today?

"The truth is all that matters, all that is really permanent." Lili comes to an understanding of her mother’s scientific philosophy while wandering through her rooms at Cirey. Do you agree with this point of view? Did Emilie apply it well in real life? Can anyone?

What do you think of Rousseau’s idea that our upbringing is deliberately intended to deform us to fit the society we live in?

Are the male characters in the book subject to the deformity Rousseau speaks of? If so, how?

Emilie du Châtelet says in her "Discourse on Happiness" that it would be better to figure out how to be happy in the situation we face than try to change it, and that the happiest people are those who desire the least change in their lot. Lili misunderstands the meaning of this at first, but comes to see her mother’s view as inspirational and liberating. What did Emilie mean? Is it good advice?

Ideas for Your Book Club Event:

• Get a copy of Candide and find a passage to read to the group (the opening chapter will do perfectly).

• Make up a title for a new Meadowlark story and ask guests to bring ideas for it.

• Rent a corset and panniers and have willing guests try them on. Perhaps a wig in the style of Marie Antoinette as well?

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