1.The book starts with the curtain call of Hedy’s performance at Theater an der Wien. She was given multiple bouquets of flowers from an unknown admirer and was about to decline the grandiose gesture but thought better of it. She could not afford to take chances to offend anyone. Do you think Hedy’s acceptance of the flowers was a mistake? Was this pivotal moment a fait accompli for her future?
2. Hedy was encouraged to marry arms dealer Friedrich Mandl for protection and security. Do you think that her parents’ counsel on the matter was wise? What choice did she have? What would you have done in her situation?
3. Mandl was violent and jealous. Why do you think Hedy stayed married to him for so long? What do you think about her promise to her father? How does duty affect Hedy’s decision?
4. There were many themes in the book. The theme of private and public identity was prominent. How does Hedy navigate these identities throughout the book? Do you feel like you know her private life as much as her public life?
5. What was your favorite part of the book?
6. What surprised you in the book?
7. Hedy was able to to bring her mother from war-torn Austria to America because of her fame and connections. Why was Hedy’s mother resistance to leave Austria at first? What are your thoughts about US immigration laws during WWII? Do you know much about it?
8. What was your least favorite part of the book?
9. What are your thoughts on Hedy’s invention? Did her invention impress you? Did it make you think about the invention process and the people behind inventions? Did the author do a good job in explaining the invention?
10. Were you surprised how smart Hedy was? Did you think she was able to invent something that would impact the war? Did you think her groundbreaking invention would have such a huge impact in today’s technology?
11. What do you think about the prejudices against woman back then? Do you think making inventions and getting patents are easier for women now?
12. “I had always been alone under my mask, the only woman in the room.”
What does the title of the book The Only Woman In The Room mean to you? Did its meaning change after you finished the book?
13. After reading the book, who would you recommend it to?
Enhance Your Book Club:
Check out Summary of The Only Woman In The Room to get a more in depth look at the book, and to help with more conversation starters.
Check out The Only Woman In The Room book review!
Enjoy this video on The Brilliant Mind of Hollywood legend Hedy Lamarr!