Discussion Questions

The Best of Everything

by Rona Jaffe

  1. Even though The Best of Everything was published in 1958, its focus on young women in the workplace feels more relevant than ever in the post-#MeToo era. Did anything about Fabian remind you of your own first job?
  2. Jaffe writes that, for Caroline, her job was “an emotional necessity” as she tries to get over her ex-boyfriend. Did this desire, to focus on work instead of your personal life, resonate with you? Why or why not?
  3. Rona Jaffe conducted around fifty interviews with young women while writing The Best of Everything. She wanted to include “all the things that nobody talks about.” If Jaffe was to conduct similar interviews today, what taboo topics would be covered? Is there anything that nobody talks about today?
  4. Who in the story did you identify with most? Were there any women whose storylines you were particularly absorbed by?
  5. The book ends with Eddie puzzling over how little he knew Caroline, being surprised by her decision to travel to Las Vegas with John Carasso. Why do you think Jaffe chose this scene to be the last?
  6. In her review of The Best of Everything, Rachel Cooke of The Guardian writes that the characters “are women who fear progress and modernity even as a part of them longs for it.” How was this fear and longing communicated in the book? Are there any areas of your own life where you both fear and look forward to progress?
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Discussion Questions." (Viewed on October 14, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/node/24748>.

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