Lies and Weddings Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide

When my book club chose Lies and Weddings for a summer read, we were looking for something light and dishy. Boy did Kevin Kwan deliver. This book has a ton of lying, manipulation, cluelessness, gluttony, greed, self-destruction and denial — all carefully swaddled in the soft cocoon of privilege. 

Sure, there are themes of familial strife, finding ones place in the world, love on the run and fierce parenting. But there is also so much excess that you’ve hardly absorbed what happened on the Town & Country photo shoot at the clothing optional Kahena beach when you’re whisked off by private plane to eat abalone (which are endangered bytheway) in Paris. 

This whirlwind will give you and your book club friends no end of fun chatter. But to help you get the over-the-top party started, I’m here for you with some Lies and Weddings book club questions. Read on for discussion prompts, a book synopsis, some selected (and mixed) reviews and a few more books featuring rich people problems for your TBR.

Lies and Weddings book club questions, with book cover.

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Lies and Weddings Synopsis

(We always chose to provide the publisher synopsis because we feel that it’s worthwhile to discuss whether the official book description actually squared with your experience of the book.)

Lies and Weddings, Kevin Kwan

Rufus Leung Gresham, future Earl of Greshambury and son of a former Hong Kong supermodel has a problem: the legendary Gresham Trust has been depleted by decades of profligate spending, and behind all the magazine covers and Instagram stories manors and yachts lies nothing more than a gargantuan mountain of debt. The only solution, put forth by Rufus’s scheming mother, is for Rufus to attend his sister’s wedding at a luxury eco-resort, a veritable who’s-who of sultans, barons, and oligarchs, and seduce a woman with money.

Should he marry Solène de Courcy, a French hotel heiress with honey blond tresses and a royal bloodline? Should he pursue Martha Dung, the tattooed venture capital genius who passes out billions like lollipops? Or should he follow his heart, betray his family, squander his legacy, and finally confess his love to the literal girl next door, the humble daughter of a doctor, Eden Tong? When a volcanic eruption burns through the nuptials and a hot mic exposes a secret tryst, the Gresham family plans—and their reputation—go up in flames.

Can the once-great dukedom rise from the ashes? Or will a secret tragedy, hidden for two decades, reveal a shocking twist?

In a globetrotting tale that takes us from the black sand beaches of Hawaii to the skies of Marrakech, from the glitzy bachelor pads of Los Angeles to the inner sanctums of England’s oldest family estates, Kevin Kwan unfurls a juicy, hilarious, sophisticated and thrillingly plotted story of love, money, murder, sex, and the lies we tell about them all.

Lies and Weddings Book Club Questions

These questions have been tailored to this book’s specific reading experience, but if you want more ideas, we also have an article with 101 generic book club questions.

  1. After the opening flashback featuring Henry’s demise, we flash forward to the Greshama. A quote by Lionel Stander opens the chapter – “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

    Do you agree? Is anyone in the book suffering from that particular lack of imagination?
  1. As Arabella tries to convince Rufus to propose to Martha, she says “In the immortal words of Madame Tina Turner, what’s love got to do with it?”

    In this modern age, are there still people who choose to (or are pressured into marrying) for convenience, money or business purposes. What indeed does love have to do with it?
  2. As Kwan introduces each new character, he not-to-subtly confers their status with a list of the schools that they attended. Was he establishing a pecking order? Were you surprised by the elite schools that some of the less wealthy characters attended? Did the device work for you?
  3. This entire story is presented by an omniscient narrator. And as they deliver the scripted version of the story, you get their snarky asides in the form of the footnotes. How did the footnotes add to (or detracted from) the story? And if your book club members read the book in different formats, discuss how the footnotes format worked for each format.
  4. At the Winter Ball, Eden says to Freddie, “Think of what that money could do to help people in need, people on this very island. We’re sitting here watching five million dollars literally melt away before our eyes, just to amuse the most privileged people on the planet. People who, by the way, already live in their own palaces!”

    What would you do with the $5 mil it took to build an ice castle on top of a volcano?
  5. All of the social maneuvering had a deliberately over-the-top element to it. But stripping it bare, can you recall instances of that sort of manipulation in your own family or friend groups? At weddings, holidays or social gatherings?
  6. The book’s last chapters rely on an enormous coincidence to bring the story to a conclusion, and deliver the typical romance happy ending. Were you all in for that? Or were you skeptical?
  7. Rocina advises Arabella to look to Asia for a match for Rufus, saying “it’s where all the action is.” Is our modern society done with old school notions of royalty, landed gentry and their societal influence. Are rising rich Asians and tech bros the new royalty?
  8. How on earth did the Greshambury’s finances get so wildly out of control? Was it believable that Arabella could be both a brilliant hotel entrepreneur and be blind to the consequences of her business decisions? Or is this just an extreme example of how debt can creep up on anybody.
  9. In your opinion, who was the most sympathetic (or likable) character. And who were you hoping would slip into the Hawaiian magma?
  10. BONUS: Have you been watching the Bridgertons? Sure, it’s set 200 years earlier, but do you see some similarities and the wealth, relationship and gender dynamics? Lady Whistledown wants to know!

Lies and Weddings Selected Reviews

“In order for a satire to succeed, it must never lose sight of the characters’ humanity. Otherwise, all we have is a bunch of caricatures without any soul. And this book gets it right. Even though the Countess of Greshamsbury, our “villain” of the story, perfectly embodies the worst of a social-climbing, guilt-tripping, shrilly opportunistic mother, she is also strangely sympathetic. I understood her need to secure a good future for her children, however misguided her actions may be.”

“Reading this was one of the most excruciating experiences I’ve had in a long time. Every character is either Mother Teresa or Hitler, and there’s pretty much zero character development across the chart of 500 pages — the way they enter the novel is also the way they leave, despite a topsy turvy plot that goes all over the place.”

“But what really sets Lies and Weddings apart is Kwan’s knack for weaving a tale that’s as juicy as it is hilarious. The secrets, the scandals, the betrayals—each twist and turn had me gasping and giggling in equal measure. And let’s not forget the steamy romance, because amidst all the chaos, there’s still plenty of heat to keep you turning those pages.”

“There are moments when some big-ticket items are touched upon, and this family goes through a lot. There was so much potential to dig deeper: found family, lost family, identity,… and it didn’t get there. I think this could have had so much more potential and when it just seemed to be heading there, it shied away. This one missed the mark for me.”


Use our guide to find dozens of book ideas for your group.

Books Like Lies and Weddings

If your book club is keen for more Kwan, we’ve also got a book club guide for Crazy Rich Asians.

The Nest, book cover.

The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This is a great book if you just want to dish on more rich people problems– or problems of the formerly rich. These four siblings have perfected their dysfunction and years of tension break loose over a luncheon in NYC. They’ve all been biding time to receive their trust funds (the “Nest”). But brother Leo has made a mess (again), and the siblings are freaked out to find that a good chunk of the Nest was used to bail him out.

It’s a social satire on rich people and entitlement, and it’s very very New York.

The Wangs vs the World book cover

The Wangs Vs the World, Jade Chang

This first generation Chinese immigrant family had it all…until they didn’t. Charles the dad is reluctant to tell his kids how bad it really is. And yet, he spirits the family away on a countrywide road trip in an effort to make a fresh start. His wife wants their old life back, his son wants to be a comedian, his younger daughter is obsessed with fashion and their oldest daughter is hiding out from all of them.

The book has humor like Kwan’s books and it covers themes of fraught family relationships, stepmoms, and resiliency.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, book cover.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Mohsin Hahmid

If you agreed with Rocina that Asia’s where it’s at, then this will be an interesting story for you.

The book’s format uses a second-person narrator in a self-help type format. But along the way, you discover how our nameless hero, in a nameless Asian city (I was visualizing Mumbai) goes from poverty to wealth in a bottled water scheme. But there’s a lot of heart to the story as he yearns for the first girl he ever loved, and while they keep crossing paths…well, you’ll just have to read the book to see how it turns out what happens.

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Lies and Weddings discussion guide.

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