The Memory of All That

George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family’s Legacy of Infidelities

Katharine Weber

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The subtitle of The Memory of All That is “George
Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family’s Legacy of
Infidelities.” What does it mean to have a legacy of

Sidney Kaufman would feel about this book?

8. Why do you think Kay Swift wanted all their letters
destroyed after George Gershwin’s death?

2. What are some of the other infidelities, beyond the
romance between Kay Swift and George Gershwin, in
Weber’s family history?

9. If George Gershwin had not died at age 38 in 1937,
how might Weber’s life have been different? Would it
have been different?

3. Are there any relationships in her family that are not
defined in some way by an act of infidelity? Who in
this story is capable of loyalty and fidelity?

10. Weber’s family tree has branches that hold a range of
disparate characters, from Benedict Arnold and Kay
Swift to Aby Warburg and Sidney Kaufman. Are
there members of her family whose stories remind
you of your own family history? Do you think having
a place on this family tree is a gift or a burden?


The FBI considered the author’s father, Sidney
Kaufman, to be unfaithful to the United States of
America. Was this a valid suspicion? What was the
effect of their decades of surveillance?

5. How do you think Weber’s own marriage has been
affected by her family’s history?

Library Journal, while calling the book “a thoroughly
engaging family memoir,” said: “The lack of
faithfulness in family relations, sexual and otherwise,
was a source of pain that Weber strove for years to
overcome—apparently successfully.” Do you agree?
Why do you think she didn’t write about this

7. How would family members described in the
book have told their stories? How do you think

11. Is this book a typical memoir? What did Weber
choose not to write about?
12. Are there incidents or details in The Memory of
All That which might have inspired elements in
any of Weber’s five novels?
13. How do family stories shape us? Why do some
families honor their own histories while other
families are indifferent to the past? Do certain
groups of people care about family history more
than others?
14. If you could meet any of the cast of characters in The
Memory of All That, who would it be?

Reading group guide for The Memory of All That by Katharine Weber. Copyright © 2011 by the Crown Publishing Group. Distributed by permission of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this reading group guide may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.