Discussion Guide

WARNING! Questions here contain plot spoilers. Don’t read the questions until you’ve read the book.

1) The thriller plot of The Doctor’s Wife deals with violence against doctors who perform abortions. How did your own views about abortion affect your reading of the book?

2) Although the thriller plot focuses on the doctor, Michael Knowles, the title suggests the most important character is his wife Annie. Why?

3) Annie’s affair with Simon is sure to press as many hot buttons as her husband’s work in the women’s clinic. How did you feel about the affair? Was it “justified”?

4) Lydia’s religious beliefs are exploited by a “reverend” with a political agenda. Who’s responsible for her actions — Lydia, Reverend Tim, or both?

5) Mothers beam when their daughters marry doctors, but Annie is disappointed in Michael precisely because he is a doctor. Medicine, she believes, has turned him into a “weary, densitized workaholic.” That could be a description of many professional men. Would it be better if those men married women in their professions?

6) “They had come to a place in their marriage when they were blind to one another, and it was mutual.” How does this change for Annie and Michael over the course of the book? What do you think happens to Michael and Annie?

7) Simon teaches Annie’s class one day, and delivers a lecture — directed at his wife — about black-and-white. “Gray is where you want to go, but it’s difficult,” he says. In reading this book, do you feel the author prodding you to see life in its complexity, as shades of gray? Or is that a rationalization people adopt when, say, they’re having affairs?

8) How do Simon Haas’ paintings of Lydia reveal how he views women? Does this view change when he gets to know Annie?

9) How do you visualize Simon’s work? What painter’s work do you see?

10) Which character, if any, were you sympathetic towards? Why?

11) Talk about the theme of guilt that runs through the book. Annie is guilty about her affair with Simon. Michael is guilty about his relationship with Celina. Simon is guilty about his life with Lydia. Lydia is guilty about murdering her father. What does this guilt do to the characters?

12) When you first started reading this book did you expect that the story would take the twists and turns that it did? What surprised you most?