Magnolia Wednesdays

Magnolia Wednesdays

by Wendy Wax

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Overview

From the USA Today bestselling author of While We Were Watching Downton Abbey comes a wonderfully entertaining book about what to do when life comes at you full swing.  

At forty-one, Vivian Armstrong Gray's life as an investigative journalist is crumbling. Humiliated after taking a bullet in her backside during an exposé, Vivi learns that she's pregnant, jobless, and very hormonal. This explains why she says 'yes' to a dreadful job covering suburban living back home in Georgia, a column she must write incognito.

Down South, it's her sister's ballroom dance studio that becomes her undercover spot where she learns about the local life-and where unexpected friendships develop. As she digs up her long buried roots, she starts to wonder if life inside the picket fence is really so bad after all.

Read Wendy Wax's post on the Penguin Blog.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780515149845
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 100,119
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Wendy Wax, a former broadcaster, is the USA Today bestselling author of ten novels, including While We Were Watching Downton AbbeyThe House on Mermaid Point, and Ocean Beach. The mother of two college-age sons, she lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her husband, and is doing her best to adjust to the quiet of her recently emptied nest.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for the novels of  the USA Today bestselling Wendy Wax
“Wise and witty...A beautiful book about loyalty, courage, and pursuing your dreams with a little help from your friends. I loved this book!”— Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone

“Reading Wendy Wax is like discovering a witty, wise, and wonderful new friend.”—Claire Cook, bestselling author of Must Love Dogs and Time Flies

“A terrific story brimming with wit, warmth, and good humor. I loved it!”—Jane Porter, author of The Good Wife

“Quite a clever, fun little novel.”—USA Today

“Great escape reading, perfect for the beach.”—Library Journal

"Fun . . . heartwarming. . . . A loving tribute to friendship and the power of the female spirit.”—Las Vegas Review-Journal “[Wax] writes with breezy wit and keen insight.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
From Wendy Wax, acclaimed author of The Accidental Bestseller, comes a witty, heartwarming tale of four Southern women letting go of their secrets and gaining control of their lives.

Vivian Gray has spent much of her adult life building her credibility as a television network newscaster in Manhattan only to have her hard work undone by a bullet to her backside. After video of her sting-gone-wrong—and stinging rump—make it to YouTube, Vivi discovers she’s being replaced by a younger, blonder reporter, leaving her with neither a shred of dignity nor a job. With all the upheaval, Vivi hardly has time to think what her moneyed Southern family or successful news correspondent boyfriend, Stone, will think of her latest mess; until, that is, the hospital calls with some heart-stopping news: the 41-year-old, now-jobless Vivi is two months pregnant.

Vivi decides to keep her pregnancy a secret as long as possible, not even telling Stone when he phones from an assignment in the Middle East. Instead, she concentrates on finding a job, eventually landing a gossip column on one of the only topics she knows nothing about: life in suburbia. Planning to secretly research the column, which will be written under the pseudonym Scarlet Leigh, Vivi decides to spend time with her widowed sister Melanie and her kids in an Atlanta suburb. She soon finds out, though, that she isn’t the only one sinking under the weight of her secrets.

Taking belly dancing lessons at Mel’s Magnolia Ballroom, Vivi finally manages to bond with her sister, and makes some new friends. But will they still be willing to support her when her alter ego and secret investigation become public?



ABOUT WENDY WAX

Wendy Wax is the author of seven previous novels. A former broadcaster, she lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her husband and two teenage sons, who have turned her into the shortest member of their family.



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • At what point in the story did you suspect that Vivi was pregnant? Did any of her actions before that discovery serve as clues?
  • Do you find Vivi to be likeable character? Does your opinion of her change—perhaps multiple times—as the story progresses? Do you find Mel to be too forgiving of Vivi’s missteps?
  • What were your initial feelings about Vivi’s investigation into JJ’s death? Did your opinion change when the truth about his death was revealed?
  • On pages 223-224, Mel, Vivi, Ruth, and Angela discuss how secrets should be kept out of relationships, yet secrets seem to be at the center of each of their lives. Discuss the secrets that exist in each of their relationships. Do you believe that some secrets are better left untold?
  • Do you think that Vivi’s reasons for keeping her pregnancy hidden from Stone are valid? Was Stone’s reaction surprising? Discuss how you would have reacted in his position.
  • On multiple occasions, Vivi wrestles with whether or not to expose her niece Shelby’s dating life to Mel. Do you think that Vivi handles these situations wisely? What, if anything, do you think Vivi’s relationship with her niece and nephew says about her own readiness to be a parent?
  • Do you agree with Angela’s belief that Vivi’s gossip columns tell important truths that no one is willing to face on his or her own? Discuss your own reaction to Postcards from Suburbia and whether Vivi has any other choice but to publish the scathing column.
  • Vivi and Mel were brought up to fear, above most everything else, bringing shame upon their family name. Do you believe this upbringing has anything to do with the sisters’ inability to recognize certain problems in their own lives? Discuss instances where Vivi and Mel are able to point out each other’s flaws, but can’t recognize similar flaws within themselves.
  • Discuss the ending of the novel. Are you satisfied by the closure that each character finds? What more do you hope would happened for Mel, Vivi, Ruth, and Angela?
  • What do you think is the major theme of Magnolia Wednesdays? Are there any lessons to take from this novel regarding both the positive and negative power of secrets, family, and/or friendships?
  • Author Wendy Wax says that she went to the University of Georgia after reading Gone With the Wind too many times. Does this enhance your experience reading Magnolia Wednesdays?

Customer Reviews

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Magnolia Wednesdays 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
Vivien Armstrong Gray has reached a certain decade in broadcast journalism that can be a little difficult to breach. As one of her investigative pieces winds up more popular on You Tube and her body is becoming a hormonal mess, Vivi heads home to Georgia. This suburban life of her sister Melanie is very foreign to Vivi, but the sisters adult relationship eventually begins to flourish. Many of the nuances of any Southern novel are here, but Wax does a gentle job with her characters and they are not typecast. It's always nice to read chick-lit of women of a more realistic age and place in life.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Are you fantasizing that you're on the hit show, "Dancing With The Stars?" What is it about dancing that is so very, very satisfying that it seems like one's soul is flying free, with all the cares and concerns of the world gone for a brief, luscious time? What's it like when one gets to know real people in a real dance studio? What's happening in between the glamorous, exciting, vibrant moments? How can dance transform one's life? Shot twice - once literally in the butt and then again figuratively by her boss, Vivien Gray is unemployed, with a bruised rear end and a very bruised ego! Unable to obtain another journalistic job as an investigative reporter and finding herself in another precarious state in her lower end of middle age state, Vivien comes up with a unique idea and travels to her sister, Melanie's home in Georgia to find out what the scoop really is about suburban lives. The discoveries and surprises are stereotypical and yet Wendy Wax has a delightful manner of presenting them so that it seems like one is reading about these facts and interpretations for the first time, with quite a bit of humor and playfulness added. How, for example can you tell the status of someone driving an SUV of a certain make and year, after considering all of the stickers all over the bumpers and windows? The essence of this very readable story, though, is about people changing and evolving, growing apart and then growing closer, speaking one's mind honestly and dealing with the consequences, all in all making pivotal choices and running with the results. So Vivien has to deal with the sense of estrangement she senses in her niece and nephew, as well as the unacknowledged feelings her own sister is harboring against Vivien. Then there's Mom who's never quite satisfied with anything said, done and probably even thought by her daughters or a boyfriend who's never stuck around long enough to establish some depth in a relationship. There's Melanie's friend Ruth whose confidence grows enough to make an incredible challenge to her spouse of many years. On and on we read, moving deeper into the personalities, the talents and quirks of these very human people who are forced to struggle through their crises or forever be stymied by them. Wendy Wax knows how to spin a credible, humorous, poignant and provocative story with some incredible issues behind it - all in a style that is surprising, credible and in a very real sense, life-changing. Superbly written, Wendy Wax!!! More please!!! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on March 21, 2010
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another book of hers I didn't want to end. I just started reading her books within the past few months & this is the 4th one & I am never disappointed. She is so good about keeping her readers interested in each & every one of her charactets. It's as if we've known them all our lives & continue wondering about them long after reading her books. I hope she writes many more. Keep up the good work!!
charlottesweb93 More than 1 year ago
Magnolia Wednesdays is a funny, yet poignant, novel that will take the reader into the wilds of Suburbia Atlanta. Kind of a fish out of water tale. As the story progresses and various pieces of information come to light, you see the relationships between ViVi and her sister grow. It is heartwarming to watch and I enjoyed reading all about Vivi and her exploits in the suburbs. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Anonymous 3 months ago
My first by the author. Wont be my last. Keeps you engaged. Fantastic characters.
Booksnyc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Magnolia Wednesdays by Wendy Wax is an enjoyable novel set in suburban Atlanta which tells the story of Vivien, a hard-driving journalist who left the South to pursue her career in the concrete jungle of New York City. She looks with derision on the land of suburbia and feels superior to the women tending to homes and children. That is, until she finds herself 41, pregnant and unemployed. In desperation, she heads back down south to live with her widowed sister, Melanie, and her two teen children. Things get interesting when Vivien takes a job reporting on life in suburbia under the pen name of "Scarlett Leigh" and begins investigating the death of her brother in law - all unbeknownst to her sister and the friends she has made in the 'burbs.Wendy Wax has created quite an ensemble cast of characters in this book - the main characters are Vivien and her sister, Melanie but there is also their critical mother, Caroline and the members of a belly-dancing class hosted at the dance studio owned by Melanie. Each of the "supporting" cast members have their own stories which add a depth and interest to the book. Like Vivien, they each undergo an evolution as the novel progresses and it is interesting to watch how they change.Vivien, however, undergoes the most change - both physically and emotionally. As her pregnancy progresses, she is surprised by the change in her shape and size but she also begins to notice a shift in her opinion of her suburban neighbors that she so harshly criticizes in her weekly newspaper column. Slowly, she integrates into the community she has found in the 'burbs and she recognizes that there is life beyond the big bad city.This book is a funny, entertaining read with just enough depth to make it a truly worthwhile read. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vivi is an investigative reporter at a major news network. She's worked hard to eradicate her southern origins, doing everything she can short of completely cutting off her family, in order to be the hard hitting New Yorker that her job requires. When she is shot in the rear during a sting gone wrong and the footage ends up on YouTube she is sure that her life has hit an all-time low. Then she discovers that her boss has been out trolling for another investigative reporter, one younger and blonder than she is. Instead of staying to train her replacement, Vivi flies off the handle and quits her job. Things get more complicated when it turns out that it is her hormones that made her so unreasonable; she's pregnant, unmarried, now jobless, and her famous reporter boyfriend is on location in a war zone. Unable to find another job in broadcast journalism, Vivi swallows her pride and takes something she feels well beneath her: writing a column incognito about life in suburbia. And since she has no direct experience of life in the suburbs, she tucks her tail and heads home to Atlanta to move in with her widowed sister, niece, and nephew, looking at herself as a stranger in the strange land of their lives, despite her previous lack of interest in her very proper, very southern family. Vivi is so busy trying to hide from the realities of her life she doesn't stop to see what her sister Melanie's life is really like, the daily troubles of life with two fatherless teenagers, the financial worries that are part and parcel of owning a business, especially one like a ballroom dance business, and the loneliness of a single parent who is stretched so thin that she barely has time to breathe much less show an interest in the opposite sex. Vivi is oblivious to anything not directly impacting her own life, writing her dispatches from the suburbs from a deeply flawed perspective which outrages the suburbanites around her, and hiding her real reason for being home from her sister. And it is only when she starts to feel discomfort in sending up Melanie's life so cavalierly, when she starts to confront her own deeply held prejudices, when she starts to worry about the morality of withholding his impending parenthood from her concerned and caring boyfriend, and when she starts to see the complexities of life all around her that she starts to grow as a character. Wax has created a wonderfully selfish character who finally grows up, understanding that not only is she not the center of the universe, but that each universe out there is valuable and doesn't deserve mockery. Vivi learns to re-evaluate success and to see that there are many ways to achieve. Like her namesake in Gone With the Wind, Melanie is a sweet, considerate woman who allows Vivi to take advantage of her while hoping that her kindness will eventually help her sister to become a better person. The pace of the plot is perfect with revelations coming at nicely measured intervals so that the reader is never bored. Vivi's eventual exposure was a tad unbelievable, quick, and surprisingly thorough given the scope of all her poking about. But that is a minor complaint about a book that was overall quite enjoyable. Of course, now I'm going to have to go and take the activity magnets off the back of my car so we're not so readily classifiable as Vivi says suburban moms are!
dianaleez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of those books that goes along nicely enough with likeable characters and enough plot to suffice, then suddenly the finish line is in sight and everything magically resolves.
ethel55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vivien Armstrong Gray is reaching that certain decade in broadcast journalism that can be a little difficult to breach. As one of her investigative pieces winds up more popular on You Tube and her body is becoming a hormonal mess, Vivi heads home to Georgia. This suburban life of her sister Melanie is very foreign to Vivi, but the sisters adult relationship eventually begins to flourish. Many of the nuances of any Southern novel are here, but Wax does a gentle job with her characters and they are not typecast. It's always nice to read chick-lit of women of a more realistic age and place in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the story. The auther had rich characters and was able to weave them together beautifully. You won't be dissapointed in this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lynne229 More than 1 year ago
This was my first Wendy Wax book. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the story line. It was a quick read.  I am looking forward to reading more by Wendy Wax, especially While We Were Watching Downton Abbey!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bubbles25 More than 1 year ago
I really like this book because the main charecter really learns a lesson about life and living and walking in another persons shoes. She learns how to show care and concern for more than just herself and her own ambitions. I really like the main charecter because she tells it like it is and I can identify with that. Read the book people! You wont be able to put it down. :)
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bee-girl More than 1 year ago
I think this was a great book and look forward to reading more by the author!
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Bobster More than 1 year ago
This was a nice, fairly predictable, realistic look at the life of two sisters and the friends around them. The sisters appear to be polar opposites until their characters are revealed and peeled back to show we are essentially all the same and long for the same things in life.