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What to wear: The one item in your wardrobe that best shows your eccentric side.
What to drink: Wine punch--without the wine if you like.
What to serve: Pecan butterball cookies, tea cakes and cucumber sandwiches.


1. Jemmy used deceit to get her job and keep it. Was she justified? Did she have a better alternative?

2. Did you ever want to live in 1898? Do you still want to after reading See President McKinley or Die Trying?

3. How does Jemmy see herself? Is having a career desirable for a girl in her position? In the 19th century, women who wanted careers instead of families were considered unnatural. Does that attitude still hold true today?

4. What is Jemmy's relationship with her mother, the widow Mrs. Belinda McBustle? Why does Jemmy hide her hopes and dreams as well as her actions from her mother?

5. Relationships are important in See President McKinley or Die Trying. Are relationships between between husbands and wives different now? How do modern solutions to marital difficulties differ from 19th century ones?

6. What is Jemmy's view of men? How do these views change during the course of the book?

7. Which of the women who work in the madhouse do you believe to be most representative of the 19th century? The cook? The bookkeeper? The bathhouse girls?

8. What about the elderly lady bookkeeper? Matron Steele? Matron Pernell? Do you have any sympathy for them?

9. After Jemmy's father died and her mother opened their home to boarders, Jemmy had to learn to do physical work. Has that strengthened her character as well as her muscles?

10. Trappings of 19th century life--clothing--or the lack of it--take on added meaning in See President McKinley or Die Trying. Is the fire escape more than just a physical feature of a building?

11. Moving about from place to place forms a central theme. What is the impact of late 19th century transportation innovations in See President McKinley or Die Trying?

12. When Jemmy is thwarted in her aspirations, she either runs away or waits and hopes for the best. Why? Would another approach have worked better?

13. Jemmy was often blind to her own danger. Are modern girls of 18 more savvy to the ways of the world?

14. Some events turn out to be very different from our original hopes and plans. Could the embarrassment at the debutante ball have been avoided? How?

15. Questions of money and social expectations run through this novel. The Erwin McBustles are rich and want to help Jemmy marry a rich fellow. Since the death of her husband, Jemmy's mother Mrs. Belinda McBustle, has had to earn her family's way by keeping a boarding house. Does the family's desire for an outwardly successful marriage blind them to reality? Do the forces of money and position blind Jemmy?

St. Louis Asylum

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