Reading Guides


A smart, sexy novel about a woman's search for her former self on the London stage

Georgie and Peter, very much in love, move to London with their three children. Once there, Georgie's dormant acting career takes off and she wins the role of Dora Jordan in a one-woman show. Dora Jordan was the most famous comic actress of the eighteenth century (she had thirteen illegitimate children, including ten by the future king of England).

As Georgie rehearses for her part, she becomes increasingly drawn to Dora Jordan, who she sees as a working mother with struggles exactly like her own. And when Georgie can no longer fight her attraction to the playwright, she begins an affair with tragic results.

Narrated by Peter, a failed-writer-turned-businessman, My Wife's Affair is about infidelity, passion, duty, and about finally getting what you want and then wanting still more.


Nancy Woodruff received her MFA from Columbia University, where she won the Henfield/Transatlantic Review Award. She taught writing at Columbia and SUNY Purchase before moving in 1997 to London, where she taught for eight years at Richmond, the American International University. She currently lives in Brooklyn and teaches at New York University.


  1. Why do you think the novel is narrated by Peter? More often we hear the point of view of a wife who has been cheated on—how is this different?
  2. Is Peter a reliable narrator? Is it possible that he could be? How would the novel be different if told from Georgie's point of view?
  3. Were you familiar with Dora Jordan before you read this book? Were you surprised by her story? What contemporary relevance does it have? Why do you think Georgie becomes so obsessed with her?
  4. Georgie fights for the play to conclude with Dora onstage, in front of an audience, rather than with the tragic ending Piers writes. Yet the novel itself ends on a devastating note. What do you make of that?
  5. Are Georgie and what she did sympathetic? Why or why not? Does her affair with Piers make her a bad mother?
  6. Forgiveness is a big theme in the novel. Should Georgie have been able to forgive Peter for what he did? Should Peter have been able to forgive Georgie?
  7. What is your opinion of Piers?
  8. Do marriages break up solely because of infidelity, or are there other, underlying reasons?
  9. While contemplating his wife's triumph as an actress, Peter says, "The strangers in us [are] always meeting the strangers in others, even when the others are ones we have loved." In what ways are Peter and Georgie strangers in this book? Are all husbands and wives are strangers to some extent?
  10. How do Georgie's and Peter's professions influence their behavior?
  11. What are the tensions between Georgie's life as an actress and her role as a mother? Do most women experience these tensions?