1. Palmer’s initial proposal does not go as planned. What does it say about his character that he was willing to take such a risk? What does it say about Josie?
2. Josie comes to love the stillness and tranquility of Ponder, making it her second home. Is there a place that you consider a sanctuary in your own life (perhaps, a longtime vacation spot)? Why is it important to you?
3. Though she is extremely reluctant to leave Palmer and Jack behind, Josie knows she must return to Seattle for the opportunity of a lifetime at Chez Anton. Discuss a time when your personal life conflicted with your career. What was the result?
4. Jack clearly adores Josie (and, of course, her cooking!). He also has a special bond with Palmer, even though the two sometimes bicker. Compare and contrast Jack’s relationships with both characters.
5. Josie’s cooking allows her to make meaningful connections with the residents of Ponder; Jack is especially partial to her moose stroganoff, for example. Is there a particular meal that holds meaning for you? Why?
6. Josie and her mother, Gina, are best friends, and are thrilled to reunite after Josie’s seven month-long stay in Ponder. Though they depend on one another, both women find love while apart. How do you see their mother-daughter relationship evolve throughout the novel?
7. How does Josie’s friendship with Angie affect her decision to reconsider Palmer’s proposal, both before she leaves Ponder and afterward, in Seattle? Do you have an Angie in your own life?
8. On Thanksgiving, Palmer is upset by the Facebook photo of Josie and Chef Anton. Is his reaction justified? Why or why not?
9. Back in Seattle, Josie realizes that she must move out of her mother’s home, noting that Gina is deserving of her own space and freedom—things she forfeited for a long time as a single mother. Describe a time you had to make a sacrifice for someone you love, or vice versa. How did it make you feel?
10. Ultimately, Josie realizes that her sous chef job isn’t as promising as she’d thought it would be. Do you believe she handled it well? Have you ever encountered a similar situation?