Your book club will have a lot to talk about after having read The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post. This biographical fiction is about the American Post cereal heiress and leader of the twentieth century high-society. In accordance with the book title, Marjorie Post really lived so many different lives over the course of her 86 years– leading to a pretty enthralling legacy.
Be prepared for an in-depth conversation using our The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post book club questions. The discussion guide features a book synopsis, ten discussion questions, and some selected reviews. If you enjoyed the novel’s themes or genre, we included some book recommendations that are similar to The Magnificent Lives Marjorie Post.
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The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post 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.)
The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post, Allison Pataki
Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweather Post lived an epic life few could imagine.
Marjorie’s journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father’s barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post’s Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of high-society wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie dared to demand more, making history in the process. Before turning thirty she amassed millions, becoming the wealthiest woman in the United States. But it was her life-force, advocacy, passion, and adventurous spirit that led to her stunning legacy.
And yet Marjorie’s story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy who could not outrun his demons, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love.
Bestselling and acclaimed author Allison Pataki has crafted an intimate portrait of a larger-than-life woman, a powerful story of one woman falling in love with her own voice and embracing her own power while shaping history in the process.
The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post 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.
- What was your first impression of Marjorie Post at the beginning? How did your impressions change throughout the course of the story? Did you come to like her more or less as the book progressed?
- Some of the book’s themes include love, family, and feminism. What do you feel is the major theme of the novel? What other themes did you notice while reading the book?
- The author, Pataki stated, “If Marjorie Post was alive today, we’d probably all want to vote for her for president.” Can you think of anyone alive today who you would like to see as president? Why would you choose that person?
- The novel is written from a first-person point of view. Do you think that helped you connect more to Marjorie Post as a character? Why or why not?
- “Depression. Great in its enormity, terrible in its depth. America was in the midst of it, and so was I.” Before the Great Depression hit America, the Gilded Age had some Americans making riches. How do you think the Depression affected those in high-society?
- Marjorie Post, being married four times over, seeking her happily-ever-after with very different men. How did each marriage shape her identity or influenced her life?
- The author writes that Marjorie’s was “A life made even richer by curiosity and generosity. A life in which I spent gladly of the riches of my heart. A life that has been a truly beautiful thing.” What does living life to the fullest mean to you?
- Marjorie Post was a presidential hostess, entertaining the Roosevelts, Kennedys, and the Johnsons, along with Hollywood’s biggest stars. If you were in a position to host the rich, famous or fascinating, who would you invite as a guest and why?
- Pataki’s new novel is her sixth work of historical fiction. Have you read any other of her novels? If so, do you prefer any of the other novels to the new one?
- Post had many roles in her life: a heiress, philanthropist, business-woman, entrepreneur, presidential hostess, art collector, diplomat, a wife and mother, ect. Which of those roles was your favorite side of her? Why?
Selected Reviews for The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post
“While there were many fascinating details in this book – how Post Cereals/General Mills began, how the wealthy and famous live, Russia prior to WWII, and Marjorie Post’s colossal life, the writing style turned her into an egoist, clueless about men, love, and marriage. I believe that if the novel had been written in the third person rather than the first person, Marjorie would have come out much more favorably as the woman I always thought she was…”
“This fictional biography of Marjorie Merriweather Post has just moved to the very top of the list of my favorite books of 2022! The writing was outstanding, and the story moved forward so smoothly that I finished reading this book within a span of less than 24 hours (thanks in part to a cold rainy day that kept me indoors). Marjorie Post did indeed live a magnificent life, and prior to reading this book I knew virtually nothing about it…”
“Very interesting story to highlight the power of one woman (and the never ending fight to keep that power). There were so many parts of her story I did not know, so it was fascinating…. And similar to watching The Crown, I found myself googling many events in her life to check what really happened. Magnificent, indeed…”
“Marjorie Post was a remarkable woman with a long list of accomplishments. This book fell short of connecting the reader to Marjorie. It is told from her point of view, but there is nothing that makes you connect with her; no real story arc, no character development. She was portrayed in the book as a poor little rich girl who never found love.”
Books Like The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post
Another fascinating woman of the gilded age was Belle da Costa Green, JP Morgan’s curator and a woman who was passing as White. It’s a popular book club read and you can use our discussion guide for The Personal Librarian. For more free-thinking, empowered women in the early 20th Century, consider reading The Lions of Fifth Avenue for book club or Trust by Hernan Diaz.
The American Heiress: A Novel, Daisy Goodwin
This historical fiction tells the story of Cora Cash, a wealthy American of the Gilded Age who bags herself an English Duke with the help of her title-chasing mother. However, she quickly learns that the English social scene is unwelcoming to an American heiress and her dashing royal husband is not all that he seems. He has the title but lacks financial stability…and he has little interest in his new wife. It’s worth reading, for the sake of being whisked off somewhere dramatic and regal.
An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew, Annejet van der Zijl
Based on a true story of a girl from middle-class obscurity who becomes one of the most privileged figures of the Gilded Age. Allene Tew embraced life with panache and resilience, never allowing personal tragedies to curtail her future. Allene married five times, earning many titles, including that of princess after marrying Prince Henry in Germany. Overall, this rich story will keep you entertained with the many enthralling lives Allene lived in a course of 82 years.
The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel, Marie Benedict
This fictional memoir is about a beautiful woman with Jewish heritage, who meets and marries a wealthy Austrian arms dealer, which helps allow her to evade Nazi persecution during WWII. However, she eventually flees her husband’s castle and goes to America where she lands a role in Hollywood, becoming a screen star known as Hedy Lamarr. Little do people know that she also is a brilliant scientist with secrets and innovations that might help the country she’s in fight against the Nazi party. This story beautifully captivates the real life movie star and inventor.
We’ve also included this book on our list of readalikes for The Rose Code for its science and war effort themes.
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