Book Clubbin’: 14 Discussion Questions for ‘The Girl From the Grand Hotel’ by Camille Aubray

For this round of our Book Clubbin’ feature, we’re diving into the forthcoming The Girl From the Grand Hotel by Camille Aubray, narrated by Lisa Flanagan!

Summer, 1939. The glittering Côte d’Azur is having a particularly brilliant season as the world’s wealthiest vacationers collide with Hollywood’s illustrious movie stars for the first-ever film festival on the French Riviera.

Into this hothouse playground comes an American named Annabel Faucon. Having left a dead-end job and a broken heart back in New York, she’s escaped to a summer stint at the fabulous Grand Hotel, where her uncle is the manager. But when a major movie studio brings its flock of stars to stay at the hotel, Annabel is handpicked to “keep an eye on” two of the mysterious arrivals: a screenwriter who’s been “in his cups” and a renegade actor who keeps luring the studio’s female star into his independent productions.

The arrival of Nazi guests only intensifies the situation. Suddenly everyone is watching everybody else during this feverish last summer before the outbreak of World War II. Faced with international spies who will stop at nothing to get what they want, Annabel finds herself embroiled in murder, intrigue, and a race against the clock to disrupt a secret Nazi communications system.

Inspired by true events and the histories of three great hotels on the Côte d’Azur—with appearances by such real-life luminaries as Marlene Dietrich, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Cagney, and Mae West—The Girl From the Grand Hotel is a brilliant page-turner that is not to be missed.

Whether you’re reading solo or with your book club, we’ve curated a list of thought-provoking discussion questions in partnership with Blackstone Publishing to spark conversations about this compelling story. Keep reading below to get the conversation started. Beware— SPOILERS ahead.


1) We first meet Annabel in her summer job at a Grand Hotel on the French Riviera in 1939. What makes a Grand Hotel special? What is her uncle’s Code of Standards? How do the newly arriving guests challenge such standards? What are Oncle JP’s plans for Annabel’s future? Do his plans conflict with her hopes and dreams?

2) How do Annabel’s past experiences with her parents, grandmother, boyfriend, education, and secretarial work affect her attitude toward the work she is now doing in France? What does Annabel yearn for?

3) Discuss Annabel’s first impressions of the screenwriter. What are Scott’s common misperceptions at this time in his life? How would you describe Annabel’s evolving relationship with Scott?

4) What are the first signs of trouble brewing when Annabel meets the Hollywood guests at the pool area? And, when she takes Oncle JP’s granddaughter Delphine to the garden? What could the garden itself represent?

5) What were your first impressions of Jack Cabot and Téa Marlo? What does Jack represent to Annabel? What does Jack reveal to Annabel about the screenwriter?

6) Why is Annabel wary of the young heir, Rick Bladey? What did you think of Rick when he met Delphine?

7) The hotel has many mysterious people: the tennis player, the English couple, the Polish secretary, Marta, the receptionist, the German guests, and movie stars. What secrets are eventually revealed about each of them?

8) Many startling events start out looking ordinary: when Annabel is asked to deliver two telegrams, when she sits in on a script meeting when she is invited to parties, and when she works with the actors and the screenwriter. Discuss each of these, examining the ominous signs that trouble is brewing in both the personal lives at the Grand Hotel and the politics of the time. How does Annabel cope with this turmoil?

9) What was the most significant thing that happened when Jack, Annabel, and Téa went off together to the little “village in the clouds” called Sainte Agnès? What does the Maginot Fort represent, both to the characters personally and to France itself?

10) What do we learn about the family of Sonny, the man who runs Olympia Studios? What is his family’s dynamic? How do Cissy and Alan, in particular, affect Annabel’s actions?

11) At the last party at the Grand Hotel, the tensions that have been brewing all along erupt in various ways. How does the thunderstorm become a breaking point? What is the metaphorical significance of the lobsters?

12) How does the Second World War outbreak affect Annabel’s life—her personal choices and the speed with which she must make life-altering decisions? What would you have done if you were in her place?

13) Many assume the first Cannes Film Festival occurred in the 1940s. They also assume that the festival was always held in the springtime. Yet the first one was planned for September 1, 1939. What was the original purpose of the festival? What were your assumptions about the Cannes Film Festival before you read this novel? Now that you know its origins, what do you think of its history and legacy?

14) When you look back on the novel, which character was always in the most danger? Is this different from what you first thought when you were introduced to the characters?

Looking for Book Recommendations?

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• Looking to share your love of books? Our handy Book Clubbin’ questions make it super easy to start a book club. Or, Netflix n’ buddy-read with this year’s book-to-screen adaptations (just be prepared for the perennial debate: is the book better than the movie/show?).

• If you’re looking for something extra, we’ve got author and narrator interviews to give you a gleam inside their worlds.

• For the curious-minded, audiobooks can teach you a thing or two, from nature therapy to personal finance. It can even keep the little ones busy so you can steal some time back for yourself.

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