1. Food and its role in tradition, community, and family is a theme that is threaded throughout the story. What are the culinary traditions in your family? Discuss how food can be an equalizer—among friends, enemies, strangers, etc.
2. Margaret and Dottie have been lifelong friends. How do you think their friendship evolved during that time? Have you had friendships that have spanned decades? How have they changed? How have they stayed the same?
3. At first, Livvy observes Guthrie from an outsider’s perspective, yet she soon warms to country life. Do you think Livvy does anything to hold her back from fully engaging in daily life in Guthrie? Have you ever had a limiting belief about yourself that has held you back from pursuing something you wanted?
4. Margaret and Livvy have a contentious relationship from the minute they meet. What is the turning point where they soften toward each other? Does it happen at the same time for both of them?
5. Food plays an integral part in the novel—New England treats such as sugar on snow and maple creemees are featured throughout. Is there a food or a food memory in your own life that you associate with a special place or time?
6. The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a story about belonging—to a person, to a place, to a community, to a family. What is it about Margaret, the McCrackens, and the community of Guthrie that makes Livvy feel like she has finally found home? What gives you a sense of belonging?
7. Fidelity is a running theme in the book. In the opening, Livvy is having an affair with a married man and alludes to other affairs. Why do you think Livvy engages in these kinds of relationships? How do they help or hurt her? How do they shape her experiences in Guthrie?
8. There are many unconventional families who appear in The City Baker—from Margaret’s relationship to the McCrackens to the staff at The Sugar Maple to Livvy’s relationship to Hannah to Livvy and Margaret’s relationship to each other. How do you define family? Do you have a chosen family as well as your birth family? Do you have people in your life whom you consider family who are not technically related to you?