Discussion Questions for Book Clubs

~What was your favorite part? What was your least favorite?

~Claire’s father leaves early in her life. How much of Claire’s behavior and self-image are a direct result of that loss?

~Think about Sylvia as a single mother in the 1950s and 60s. In what ways did the contrast between Sylvia and Fran influence Libby and Claire’s views about marriage and family? Sylvia and Fran have very different styles of mothering, shaped by their own early lives. How does Sylvia show her love? How does Fran? Did you see yourself or your own mother in either of them?

~As adults, Claire and Libby’s relationship has a now and then (as in occasional) sort of quality. What keeps Claire and Libby’s friendship so strong across time and distance? Their friendship has had long breaks. Do you have friendships like that? What keeps the bond intact?

~Now and then also refers to the passage of time. Did the dual time-frame work in this book? Why or why not?

~How does the book’s title work in relation to the book’s contents? If you could give the book a new title, what would it be?

~Claire’s sexual assault happened in the late sixties. Think about the culture at the time, decades before the #MeToo movement. Although the term was not in use at the time, Claire likely suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) Was her not telling the police a reasonable choice? Why or why not? How did the assault and its aftermath influence the choices she made later?

~Think about Claire’s decision not to tell anyone about the baby. Not her mother. Not Sam. Did you believe her reasons or were they just rationalizations for her own selfishness? Did you want to argue with her? How does having a baby change Claire? How does meeting Grace change Claire?

~Libby and her brother, John argue over the care of their father as his Alzheimer’s progresses. How did that make you feel? As an outsider, what advice would you have given Libby?

~The theme of staying home vs going away comes into play throughout the book. How did Claire and Libby respond early in their lives? How and why do their views change?

~Did you find Sylvia a sympathetic character when you first met her? Why or why not? Did your feelings change? What about Claude? How did your view of Claude change after you met him? Could you have forgiven them as Claire seems to have done?

~Both Claire and Sylvia kept secrets from one another. Which secret was worse? Can you empathize with either one of them? Why or why not?

~One of the themes of this book is second chances. What do you think lies ahead for Claire and Sam? For Libby and Jack? For Sylvia and Claude?

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