Episode 19: Barbara Bourland

Discussion Questions

1. At the start of I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, Cat Ono and Bess Bonner have seemingly perfect lives with great jobs, clothes, and friends in a very glamorous version of New York City. How does Hillary Whitney’s death shake that foundation? What does her death say about the pressure on a modern woman in work, life, and love?

2. Cat is determined to use her job at RAGE and the medium of fashion editorials to push a more modern agenda for women. Do you see the same thing happening in pop culture and fashion magazines today? How do you think standards have changed for women’s clothing in the last 100 years?

3. Detective Hutton starts the Whitney case with a very male-centric view of women and fashion. Do think meeting Cat and discussing her job have an effect on his perceptions? How does how he views Cat change over the course of the novel?

 4. RAGE Fashion Book is dedicated to using only ethically sourced clothing in its editorials. Do you think it’s possible to hold magazines to an ethical standard when it comes to how clothing is made? How much responsibility do consumers and retailers have in standards of clothing manufacturing? Do you think about these issues when you go shopping?

5. Bess steps in to support Cat when she needs it most, even getting arrested with her. Do you have best friends that you can count on like this? Is this type of relationship uniquely female? How do you think male friendship differs from female friendship?

6. In RAGE’s rival, Mania, we see the rise of technology and social media in the fashion world. How has the internet changed the way we view style? Where do you go to find the latest trends? Do you think we see more blatant advertisement in fashion publications or ‘advertorials’ today?

7. Women often feel the burden of an unrelenting pressure to be thin. We see this play out in I’ll Eat When I’m Dead with Hillary’s death and Cat’s increasing anorexia in the second half of the book. Have you, a loved one or close friend been personally affected by an eating disorder? Do you think that there is enough awareness about how to deal with these issues and teach women about healthy body image?

Book Club Bites

Whether you’re gathering with a group, or reading solo, try our recommendations for a cocktail and snack that pair perfectly with the book.

Book Club Extras

Spotify Playlist

Recommended Books

BARBARA BOURLAND lives in Baltimore, MD. Formerly, she was a web producer for O, The Oprah Magazine, and OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network. I'll Eat When I'm Dead is her first novel. She is currently at work on a sequel, entitled Maniacs. Her third novel, Pine City, is also forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing.
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