Questions for Discussion

1. Goodwin calls the Victorian age “a time of enormous excitement and emotional fervor.” After reading The Fortune Hunter, do you agree with her assessment? What detail most surprised you? Would you give up modern conveniences to live in the nineteenth century? Why or why not?

2. Would you be willing to trade places with Sisi? Do you think the wealth and glamour of an empress’s life is worth being unhappy? Are rulers entitled to personal happiness or are duty and obligation to one’s people the price for having plenty even in times of scarcity? Has this notion of noblesse oblige been lost in modern times? Discuss.

3. What do you think motivates Bay Middleton in his initial pursuit of Sisi? Do his motives change over time? Discuss.

4. Is Bay “good marriage material” by Victorian standards? Could he ever be considered a suitable suitor for the Empress of Austria? Discuss. Think of examples from modern times, such as Princess Diana. What do you think the response of the public and the media would be to their relationship if it were happening today? Discuss.

5. As an American visitor of the period, how would you have reacted to the very distinct class structure of Victorian England? Was it really less stratified during the Gilded Age or is this part of the great American myth of a classless society? Discuss with examples.

6. Does knowing a historical novel is based on real people or events make you read it differently? Why or why not? How true to life is The Fortune Hunter? What percentage do you think Goodwin had to imagine, based on research? How is that different from a standard historical novel?

The Fortune Hunter is available in-Club now.

Book Review and Summary | About the Author

An Interview with the Author | Questions for Discussion