by Candice Carty-Williams


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“[B]rilliant, timely, funny, heartbreaking.” —Jojo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places...including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501196010
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication date: 03/19/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 13,220
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Candice Carty-Williams is a senior marketing executive at Vintage. In 2016, she created and launched the Guardian and 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, which aims to find, champion, and celebrate underrepresented writers. She contributes regularly to i-D, Refinery29, BEAT Magazine, and more, and her pieces, especially those about blackness, sex, and identity, have been shared globally. Queenie is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @CandiceC_W.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Queenie includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and not feeing entirely comfortable in either. She’s worked hard to obtain a job at a national newspaper, but once there, she finds she’s constantly comparing herself to her white, middle-class peers and coming up wanting. Plus, there’s the break-up with her long-term boyfriend. Unmoored, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places, making many questionable decisions.

As Queenie careens from one poor choice to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. What were your first impressions of Queenie? Did you like her? Were you surprised to hear the story behind Queenie’s name? How does hearing the story from Sylvie affect Queenie? Do you think that Sylvie chose a fitting name for Queenie? Explain your answer.

2. Queenie tells Tom, “Well, your family; it’s what a family should be.” (p. 293) Discuss her statement. What is it about Tom’s family that Queenie finds so appealing? Compare her family to Tom’s. Did you find Queenie’s family to be supportive? Why or why not?

3. Describe the structure of Queenie. What’s the effect of the shifting time frame? How do the flashbacks help you better understand Queenie and her relationship with Tom? Do the texts and emails that are included also help you better understand what Queenie is thinking? If so, how?

4. When Cassandra says that Kyazike’s name is “like Jessica without the ‘ic’ in the middle,” Kyazike corrects her, saying, “No. Like my own name. Not some . . . Western name. Chess. Keh.” (p. 170) Explain her reaction. Why is it important for Kyazike to correct Cassandra’s assertion? Why does hearing Kyazike’s name impress Queenie when they first meet?

5. After Queenie pitches an article designed to shine a light on the Black Lives Matter movement, one of her colleagues responds by saying, “All that Black Lives Matter nonsense . . . All lives matter.” (p. 376) Discuss Queenie’s reaction to this assertion. What’s her counterargument? Why is it so important for her to cover the movement?

6. Gina tells Queenie, “Whenever I’ve had a huge upheaval, my mother has always said, ‘Keep one foot on the ground when two are in the air.’” (p. 224) Why does she offer Queenie this advice? Were you surprised by the kindness that she shows Queenie? Do you think Gina is a good boss? Would you want to work for her? Why or why not?

7. After a conversation with Darcy, Queenie thinks, “I wished that well-meaning white liberals would think before they said things that they thought were perfectly innocent.” (p. 178) What does Darcy say that leads to Queenie’s reaction? Think about the comment. Why is it so charged? How does Darcy’s comment highlight the differences between Queenie’s and Darcy’s experiences?

8. What did you think of Guy? Why does Queenie spend time with him? How does she describe their interactions to her friends? Contrast the reality of their interactions to what Queenie tells her friends. Why do you think that Queenie romanticizes the details?

9. According to Queenie, Darcy, Cassandra, and Kyazike “all represented a different part of my life, had all come to me at different times; why they’d all stuck with me I was constantly trying to work out.” (p. 174) What part of Queenie’s life does each woman represent? Describe their friendships. What does each woman bring to Queenie’s life? Do you think that they’re good friends to her? Why or why not?

10. Queenie’s grandmother tells her, “If you are sad, you have to try not to be,” causing Queenie to muse that “all of my grandmother’s responses come with a Caribbean frame of reference that forces me to accept that my problems are trivial.” (p. 46) How does Queenie’s grandmother deal with problems? How does she react when Queenie broaches the subject of getting counseling, and why?

11. Janet asks Queenie “what do you see, when you look in the mirror, when you think about yourself as a person?” (p. 510) Why is this such a difficult question for Queenie to answer? How would you describe her? If someone posed this question to you, how would you answer it?

12. What did you think of Queenie’s lists? Are they effective in helping her navigate stressful situations? What’s the effect of including them in the novel? How do the lists help propel the story forward? Did you learn anything interesting about Queenie from her list of New Year’s Resolutions? If so, why?

13. Sylvie feels that she “let [Queenie] down, I should have been better to her, that way she might have been better herself.” (p. 315) Why did Sylvie leave? How did her departure affect Queenie? Describe their relationship. How does it evolve throughout the novel?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. When Queenie is searching for a new flat, one of her considerations is fitting “the books that I’m determined to carry throughout life with me.” (p. 57) Have you read any books that you feel compelled to keep with you as you moved house? Tell your book club about them. After hearing about all the books that the members of your book club love, choose one for your next discussion.

2. In talking about her family, Queenie says, “‘Food is love’ is my family’s unofficial motto.” (p. 439) If your family had an official motto, what would it be? Share it with your book club, explaining its origins.

3. At Christmastime, Queenie watches Love, Actually, “a film that usually makes me roar with laughter through sheer disbelief.” (p. 309) Watch Love, Actually with your book club. What did you think of it? Are there any particular scenes in the film that you think Queenie would find unbelievable? Which are they and why?

4. Tom gives Queenie a headscarf as a gift during their first Christmas together. Why is this gift so special to Queenie? Have you gotten any gifts like that? Tell your book club about them, and explain why the gift was so meaningful to you.

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