Book Clubbin’: 10 Discussion Questions for ‘Sex and Vanity’ by Kevin Kwan

Welcome to our monthly blog feature, Book Clubbin’! As most of us are still at home due to the pandemic, we’re trying our best to stay busy, entertained, and most of all, connected. During this time, we encourage you to reach out to your bookish friends and see if they want to start up a virtual book club!

If you’re thinking, “I’m busy with work, taking care of the house, and so many other things right now, when do you expect me to read!?” That’s where audiobooks come in. You can pop an audiobook on in the background while you’re cooking dinner, spending some time in the garden, or going on a jog around the neighborhood.

This month our Book Clubbin’ pick is Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, narrated by Lydia Look. You’ll know Kwan from his bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians, which spawned a box office hit in 2018 with a sequel to come. His latest release, Sex and Vanity, has been chosen as Good Morning America’s July book club pick and follows a young woman who finds herself torn between two completely different men. There may not be ‘crazy’ or ‘rich’ in the title, but you can certainly expect lots of both.

This month’s pick is a breezy listen that will keep you entertained to no end. If you’re ready to start discussing Sex and Vanity with your book club, get started with the questions below. Beware— SPOILERS ahead.

—————MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!————

1) Sex and Vanity is set is two places: Capri and New York City. Why do you think Kevin Kwan chose to situate his characters in two vastly different settings?

2) Consider the conversation between Mordecai and Charlotte that takes place before the tour of Villa Lachowski. Kwan lets us in on their inner dialogues and we’re made privy to their intense game of scrutiny which we’ll see on display again and again with different characters. Do you think all people are capable of such extreme behaviors or do you think their preoccupation with social merit is exacerbated by their wealth and status?

3) Charlotte screams to Olivia that Lucie has “absolutely ruined her life.” How did you interpret this? Is Charlotte referring to the drones, George, or to something else?

4) Mrs. Zao mentions that George often feels burdened by the state of the world and thinks Isabel’s lavish wedding is a massive waste of money, to which Lucy counters Isabel is a dear friend and “does everything with intention and heart.” While Lucy and George both come from privileged families, their views of wealth differ greatly. How does this play out in the rest of the novel?

5) Many characters are caught between two disparate worlds. Discuss how clashing cultures, histories, and traditions influence each character’s upbringing and perspectives.

6) Why do you think Kwan chose to pair Lucy off with a man like Cecil Pike before reuniting her with George?

7) Discuss the ways characters have normalized cultural appropriation and racial microaggressions. Do you think any of them are aware of or have attempted to rectify their harmful behaviors?

8) How did you feel about Kwan’s use of footnotes throughout the book? Did they enhance your understanding of the story or did you find them distracting?

9) Isabel says about Capri: “I’ve been here probably half a dozen times and I still feel like I’m discovering a whole different island every time I come.” Have you felt this way about any place you’ve travelled to?

10) If you could have a lavish destination wedding, where would you want it to be?


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