Feel free to use these questions to guide your discussion of A Suitable Husband.
(Note: Read these after you finish the book, as some contain ‘spoilers’).
There are many books about the Holocaust, but fewer about the pre-war years in Poland. Were you surprised by the Polish anti-Semitism that pre-dated the Nazi invasion?
How did your perspective, as a reader who knows what the future holds, affect your reading of the novel?
The novel focuses on one Zionist group, the Guardsmen, and contrasts it with the Bund. Do you think you’d have belonged to one or the other, had you lived at the time? Or would you have adopted Alex’s attitude of living as best you could in the face of discrimination?
The book is written from multiple points of view. Why do you think the author made that choice? In what ways did it enhance or detract from the story?
Minna and Hannah, both expressed the thought that the Zionists could live peaceably with the Arabs. Why?
Why did Bianca object so strongly to Alex? Was she reacting to the idea of an arranged marriage? Alex himself? Or something else?
Who would you have chosen? Alex or Wolf?
Who made a more “suitable husband” for Bianca? Why?
How would you describe Wolf’s relationship with Hanna?
Do you think Wolf really cared about Bianca? Was she just another conquest? Was he using her to make Hanna jealous?
Why did Hanna suggest Bianca for Hakshara?
At one point Bianca says that Wolf, “…had his own, somewhat perverse moral code, but deception wasn’t part of it.” Do you agree with that?
Is a sham marriage so different from an arranged marriage, as Bianca muses at the end of Chapter 6?
Bianca’s interest in Zionism seems connected with Wolf. If not for him, do you think she would have still wanted to go to Palestine? In Chapter 8, she says, “…the goal was Palestine, not him (Wolf).” Do you believe her?
Natan and Wolf are both tough and brave, but in different ways. How would you describe the differences?
Natan and Celia share a strong bond at the beginning. How would you describe their attraction? Was it the same for both of them?
What was different about Felicia, in Natan’s eyes? Have you ever had that experience? Have you had your own Celia, or Felicia (or male counterpart)?
Have you been either a Celia or Felicia to someone?
What draws Natan to the Bund? Is it Felicia? Yankl? Or something else?
Celia forgives Natan fairly easily when she gets to Vilna. Is that because he is right, that her passion is Palestine, not him? Or is she just being pragmatic? Or something else?
How did boxing change Natan?
What did killing Igor accomplish? Was it criminal? Rational? Just?
Bianca continually reshaped her goals in the course of the novel. What are some examples of how she adapted to circumstances instead of shaping them? Is that a strength or a weakness?
In order to ensure that Alex will marry Bianca, Mama devises a plan to trick him. What do you think of the morality of her plan?
Do you think Alex knew the truth?
The theme of motherhood runs throughout the novel. Do you think Danka was a good mother? If so, how is that shown? Do you think Bianca’s choices reflect those of a good mother?
Papa is portrayed as a bit of a buffoon. Did he lend any comic relief, or was he a more tragic figure?
Bianca wanted freedom and independence at the beginning, by the river. Does she achieve it? Does anyone in the novel?
Did you expect the ending? If not, what did you expect to have happen at the end?
Why do you think Bianca made her decision at the end? Do you think she will regret it?
What do you think happens after the book is over?
If there was a sequel, would you want it to be about Bianca either surviving the war in Poland or escaping to Palestine? Or about Natan and Felicia in New York during the war and afterwards.