Questions and Topics for Discussion
Amy Reynolds is stunned when her first, great love suddenly reappears. A happily married mother of two, she wants nothing to do with him. But then-needing to know why he was ripped from her life without explanation-Amy becomes obsessed with the idea that maybe they really were meant to be together…
ABOUT PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY
Patti Callahan Henry lives with her husband and three children and is working on her next novel.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONSSeeing Nick again produces a strong reaction in Amy—a heightened awareness of her physical surroundings, a rush of memories, conflicting feelings of attraction and wariness. Why do you think her response is so immediate and intense? Have you ever encountered someone from your past and responded similarly?
Meeting each other again reminds both Amy and Nick of the young people of passion and promise that they were long ago, and makes them aware of the compromises and accommodations they’ve made in their marriages and in their lives. Discuss how each character is different now from what she was in college, and list some of the dreams they’ve given up or modified. Is “giving up” a natural and inevitable part of life? What dreams have you abandoned? What accommodations have you made?
What role do you think desire plays in bringing Nick and Amy together again? They each believe that the other abandoned them—how much does that unresolved abandonment play into the desire they now feel for each other? Have you ever been abandoned, rejected, or betrayed by someone, and yet continue to feel strongly drawn to him or her?
The rebirth of desire comes to Amy as her children are growing up and beginning to leave home. Does that have any influence on her new relationship with Nick? Is Amy more vulnerable at this time of life, or could their affair have happened at any time?
As the novel progresses, Amy comes to believe that the universe is bringing her and Nick together—through their children, their mutual interest in Oystertip Island, and all the circumstances of their lives. Is this just a way for Amy to excuse her behavior with Nick? Or do you agree that some larger force is at work to unite them, and if so, why?
What does it mean when Amy says she has “lost the moon,” and how does she find it again?
Discuss the roles of Eliza and Phil in the novel. Do you like them and sympathize with them? Do you feel you know them by the end? How do they change during the novel and what new understanding do they gain?
Do you like the way the book ends? Did Amy make the right choice? How do you see Amy’s and Nick’s futures unfolding?
Part III is prefaced with a quote by Alfred Northhead White: “The only joy to be trusted is the joy found on the far side of a broken heart.” What does this mean? How do you think it applies to Amy and Nick? Does your own experience support or contradict this statement?
Do you have an ex lover/husband/boyfriend with whom you’ve lost touch? How do you think you would react if you saw him/her? Are there things you wish you could say now that you didn’t say then? Is there a small part of you that is still bitter or regretful because s/he got away?