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Book Club Questions for Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown

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Book club questions for Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown explores themes of love, family, and the consequences of our choices.

This novel follows four generations of Montrose women who live together in a California bungalow. They keep to themselves and their bond is strengthened by their collection of spells and tinctures. However, when Nickie Montrose brings home a boy for the first time, their quiet lives are thrown into disarray as they realize that the family curse, which causes any person they fall in love with to die, has been kept from her.

The book is set on a collision course dating back to a Voodoo shop in 1950s New Orleans’s French Quarter where a hidden story in a mysterious book may hold the answers they seek in life and in love. As each woman reckons with her own past choices and mistakes, they discover new truths about the curse that has plagued their family for generations.

Black Candle Women is a tale of family, love, and the unbreakable bonds that tie us together. As you read, you’ll find yourself questioning the power of family curses, the importance of communication, and the role that magic can play in our lives. Get ready to immerse yourself in a story that will leave you both enchanted and moved.

Below you will find my discussion guide for Black Candle Women, the synopsis of the book, as well as 20 original book club questions to keep your book club discussion flowing high. Also, don’t forget to read my book recommendations below the questions!

I hope you will enjoy discussing my book club discussion questions for Black Candle Women! Have fun analyzing the themes of the story with your book clubs, and let me know your thoughts!

The Synopsis

A warm and wry family drama with a magical twist about four generations of Black women, a family curse, and one very complicated year of heartache, miscommunication, and learning to let go.

Generations of Montrose women—Augusta, Victoria, Willow—have lived together in their quaint two-story bungalow in California for years. They keep to themselves, never venture far from home, and their collection of tinctures and spells is an unspoken bond between them.

But when seventeen-year-old Nickie Montrose brings home a boy for the first time, their quiet lives are thrown into disarray. For the other women have been withholding a secret from Nickie that will end her relationship before it’s even begun: the decades-old family curse that any person they fall in love with dies.

Their surprise guest forces each woman to reckon with her own past choices and mistakes. And as new truths about the curse emerge, the family is set on a collision course dating back to a Voodoo shop in 1950s New Orleans’s French Quarter—where a hidden story in a mysterious book may just hold the answers they seek in life and in love…

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Selected Reviews for Black Candle Women

“Richly imagined and elegantly told, with plenty of satisfying secrets, heartaches, and twists.”
—Sadeqa Johnson

“Brown deftly portrays an insular family of women in all of its complicated glory…The spiritual angle gives this powerful family drama a magical twist that will delight readers.”

Black Candle Women is a bold and tender story about three generations of women each attempting to find their way amidst the gifts and curses they’ve inherited. This novel is a wondrous celebration of womanhood.”
—Cleyvis Natera

“[A] gripping Black family drama…Brown’s debut tackles generational trauma in an engaging and heartfelt way.”
Library Journal

Book Club Questions for Black Candle Women

The following book club questions have been tailored to this book’s specific reading experience.

1. Willow’s avoidance of relationships despite her disbelief in the curse is an interesting psychological behavior. What underlying factors might be driving her behavior, such as fear of vulnerability, fear of abandonment, or fear of repeating the patterns of the past? How does her meeting with January challenge and change her previously held beliefs about love and relationships?

2. The Montrose women are bound together by their shared family curse. Do you think the curse ultimately brought the women closer or drove them apart? How did the curse affect each character’s decisions and actions throughout the story?

3. The living arrangement of four generations of Montrose women can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it offers a sense of continuity and connection to family history, but on the other hand, it can lead to conflicts and power struggles between different generations. How do the Montrose women navigate these tensions, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of living in such close proximity with family members?

4. Nickie is the youngest member of the Montrose family, and she is the first to be confronted with the truth of the curse. How did she handle the news, and how did it change her perspective on her family and their history?

5. The book takes place in both present-day California and 1950s New Orleans. How did the author’s use of setting contribute to the story’s overall mood and tone? Did you feel that the descriptions of New Orleans were accurate and evocative?

6. Each of the Montrose women has a unique relationship with Voodoo and hoodoo. How did these practices affect the story, and what did they reveal about the characters’ beliefs and values?

7. The title of the book, Black Candle Women, suggests a theme of darkness and mystery associated with the Montrose women. How does the use of the black candle symbolize the struggles and secrets of the Montrose family? In what ways do the Montroses embody the qualities of black candle women, and how does this concept relate to Bela Nova’s own identity and legacy?

8. Each of the Montrose women has her own unique personality and challenges. Which character did you find the most compelling, and why? How does her story contribute to the overall themes and message of the book?

9. Communication (or lack thereof) plays a major role in the story, both within the Montrose family and between the women and their romantic partners. What do you think the author is trying to say about the importance of communication in relationships, both familial and romantic?

10. The family curse is a central motif in the book, and raises questions about the impact of intergenerational trauma and the responsibility of individuals for the actions of their ancestors. How does the curse affect the lives of the Montrose women, and what are the different ways in which they respond to it? How does the concept of curses relate to our own beliefs about fate, free will, and the role of personal agency in shaping our lives?

11. In what ways did each of the Montrose women defy traditional gender roles and expectations? How did their actions challenge and subvert stereotypes about Black women?

12. The story explores themes of love, loss, and grief. Which character’s story resonated with you the most, and why?

13. The book that contains the history of the Montrose family is a powerful symbol of the connection between past and present, and the importance of preserving and honoring family traditions. Why do you think Augusta was willing to give up this valuable artifact to Bela Nova, despite the emotional significance it held for the Montrose women? How does the Montrose family’s approach to preserving their history compare to your own family’s practices, and what can we learn from their example?

14. The novel has a magical, fairy tale-like quality to it, but it also deals with heavy topics like racism, domestic violence, and poverty. How did the author balance these different elements, and do you think the story would have been just as effective without the magical elements?

15. The Montrose women are all very different, with their own strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. Who was your favorite character, and why? Which character did you identify with the most?

16. The author incorporates elements of magic and mysticism into the story through the Montrose women’s collection of tinctures and spells, as well as the voodoo and hoodoo practices in New Orleans. What role do you think these magical elements play in the story? How do they affect the characters and their relationships with each other?

17. The story is told from the perspectives of multiple characters, including Augusta, Victoria, Willow, and Nickie. How does this affect the way the story is told and the reader’s experience of the book? Were there any perspectives you found more compelling than others?

18. This book features an all-Black cast of characters. How does the author portray the experiences of Black women and their relationships with each other? Were there any aspects of the book that you found particularly relatable or thought-provoking?

19. Do you think the Montrose women were right to keep the curse a secret from Nickie? Why or why not?

20. The book ends with a twist that reveals the true nature of the curse. Did this revelation surprise you, or did you see it coming? How did it affect your understanding of the characters and their struggles throughout the story?

Additional Recommendations

Hope you enjoyed my book club and discussion questions for Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown!

Here are some more of my book club recommendations:

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?

In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves.

Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.

The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson

“A triumph of historical fiction” (The Washington Post) set in 1950s Philadelphia and Washington, DC, that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.

1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright.

Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his par­ents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.

With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson

A deliciously funny, sharply observed debut of family, love, and class, this zeitgeisty novel follows three women in one wealthy Brooklyn clan.

Darley, the eldest daughter in the well-connected old money Stockton family, followed her heart, trading her job and her inheritance for motherhood but giving up far too much in the process; Sasha, a middle-class New England girl, has married into the Brooklyn Heights family, and finds herself cast as the arriviste outsider; and Georgiana, the baby of the family, has fallen in love with someone she can’t have, and must decide what kind of person she wants to be. 

Rife with the indulgent pleasures of life among New York’s one-percenters, Pineapple Street is a smart, escapist novel that sparkles with wit. Full of recognizable, loveable—if fallible—characters, it’s about the peculiar unknowability of someone else’s family, the miles between the haves and have-nots, and the insanity of first love—all wrapped in a story that is a sheer delight.

Thank you for reading my book club discussion questions and as always, happy reading! ❤️