1. Heidi’s mother believes strongly that the house in Provence has magical qualities that help people make decisions and see their lives clearly. Have you ever heard stories about an object or place similar to the love stories that Heidi’s mother tells her and Elysius when they’re growing up? Do you believe that a place can heal?
2. One of the first lines of the book is “Every good love story has another love hiding within it.” What do you think the author means by that? Do you agree?
3. Discuss Abbot’s obsessive compulsiveness. In what ways does he use his tics as a coping mechanism? In what ways do you think they hold him back? Have you ever experienced similar symptoms brought on by a trauma or loss?
4. During the summer, Charlotte is supposed to be studying SAT vocabulary words, and Abbot is reliant on his father’s dictionary. What is significant about language and vocabulary for this family? What do you think it means that their books are stolen at the beginning of the trip?
5. Veronique tells Heidi that it was only because of the fire that the archeological team was able to set up near the property, saying that tragedy allowed them to dig into the past. In what ways is that true for Heidi? For Julien? For Heidi’s mother and Veronique?
6. Heidi and Elysius are sisters, but approach nearly every situation differently. Why do you think that is? Based on their lives as adults, what would you say were the primary repercussions of their father’s affair and their mother’s lost summer?
7. Why do you think Charlotte is so drawn to Veronique and to her kitchen?
8. Heidi has a complicated relationship with food and cooking—she’s a professional baker, yet after Henry’s death she can’t bring herself to go near a kitchen. Why does it take that side of her so long to reemerge? Discuss some key food scenes and why they are important to Heidi’s summer.
9. Discuss the injured swallow, and the ways in which it serves as a breakthrough in Heidi and Abbot’s grieving process. How does Abbot uses the bird to think about his father? Why do you think the author chose a swallow to explore this theme?
10. Charlotte tells Heidi that when she prays, she thinks of herself as one of the Flying Wallendas and asks for a good net. What does that come to mean to her? What do you think the concept of a safety net means to other characters in the book?
11. Heidi tells Charlotte that there are many different kinds of love. In what ways does that apply to Heidi’s life? How is she able to reconcile her love for Julien with her love for Henry?
12. What do you think the future holds for Charlotte and Adam? What about for their daughter, Pearl?