1. As a Northerner who has little experience with Southern culture, Charlie initially struggles to adapt to her new environment. What are some of the cultural differences between North and South that you noticed in this book? What kind of regional differences have you personally observed when traveling in the United States?
2. The Deveau family is known for its power and influence. Which characters are the most powerful in the story, and why? What gives a person power? Which characters best demonstrate personal strength? What is the difference between power and strength?
3. Compare Charlie’s relationship with Noah to that with her ex-husband. What do these two relationships have in common, and in what ways are they different? What do you think Charlie needs in a partner? What adjustments must she herself make in order for her relationships to succeed?
4. Several characters in the novel, including Charlie herself, keep aspects of their history a secret. Do you think secrets are necessary and appropriate or inevitably destructive? Where is the line? Does a child ever have a right to know about his or her parent’s history or is a parent entitled to personal privacy?
5. How do Charlie’s friendships help her through the grieving process and aid her healing? In your experience, what is the best way to help someone through a loss? What has helped you most during difficult periods of your life?
6. Discuss the character of Hettie. Do you think she acted out of self-preservation or out of love for her children? Were her actions justified? Why or why not?
7. Throughout the novel, Charlie remains unsure whether her experiences are a result of “God or Fate or Chance.” Other characters, like Leeann and Justine, are confident in their faith. Do you think The Gates of Evangeline
presents a particular world view, or is it open to interpretation? Why?
8. The novel ends with many questions about the future left unanswered. How has Charlie changed over the course of the book? Do you think these changes will enable her to find happiness in the future, or is she likely to repeat her mistakes? How might her newfound gift affect her life going forward?