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Discussion Guide

The Red Kitchen: A Memoir

By Barbara Clarke

Even the best mother-daughter relationship has its challenges. But take one that’s not the best and add to it a secretive husband and father and a troubling memory, and you have the makings of The Red Kitchen—a memoir full of humor, grit, honesty, love, and reconciliation. As an adult, a summer in Africa allows Barbara to live without labels—wife, mother, daughter, sister—and become the woman she wants to be: funny, compassionate, complex, and often flawed.


For her mother, Em, it takes the end her unhappy fifty-year marriage to have the freedom to come into her own. In her daughter, Em finds a compassionate confidante and moves out into a bigger world.


By Barbara reaching out to her mother and her mother reaching back, they bring about a longed-for reconciliation and loving relationship that at times neither one thought possible.


This discussion guide was shared and sponsored in partnership with Authorbuzz. 

Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to guide your next book club meeting.

What are the essential elements that make up the mother-daughter bond? Did Barbara and her mother’s reconciliation resonate with you? If so, how?

What women in the memoir exerted the greatest influence on the author? Who are the greatest female influencers in your life?

What do you know about your mother’s life? What were her dreams? Were they fulfilled? If not, why not?