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Pieces of Happiness Reader’s Guide

By Anne Ostby

Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby

READERS GUIDE

These discussion questions are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate by Anne Ostby.

Introduction

A novel of five lifelong friends who, in their sixties, decide to live together on a cocoa farm in Fiji, where they not only start a chocolate business but strengthen their friendships and rediscover themselves. Pieces of Happiness will reaffirm your faith in friendship—and the importance of indulging your sweet tooth.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1.        “A letter can take days and weeks on its journey from one world to another, and the words find the right depth and gravity along the way.” (pg. 2) Kat’s letter changed the lives of her friends.  Would an e-mail have had the same impact?
2.       The author writes early on in the novel that age “claws around your eyes after thirty, grabs the corners of your mouth and yanks them down around forty” (pg. 11).   What did you think about the book’s honesty about aging and how it affects women?  How large is the role that culture plays in attitudes toward women and aging?
3.       Kat, Sina, Ingrid, Lisbeth, and Maya each have very distinct personalities:  Of the five friends, which one did you relate to the most and why?
4.       If you got a letter from an old friend asking you to live with her on a cocoa farm in Fiji, would you go?
5.       Ateca is the “Greek chorus” of the novel.  How did her heartfelt prayers and vivid dreams add to your enjoyment of the story?
6.       The friendship between the characters is complicated and inspiring.  Could you live with four of your closest friends?  What about entering into a business partnership with friends?
7.       Given her health issues, it is Maya who takes the biggest risk of all of the women, but the rewards are great.  Do you think her quality of life is better than it would have been if she had stayed at home?
8.       Is Kat right in keeping Maya’s condition from the other women?
9.       Does Sina do the right thing in telling Lisbeth who Armand’s father is?  How did this revelation affect their relationship?
10.   Armand’s visit is a turning point in the novel.  Discuss the significance of his arrival—and his departure.
11.   Fiji is so present in the novel, it’s almost like a character rather than a setting.  Were you inspired to plan a trip to Fiji after reading Pieces of Happiness?
12.   If planning a trip to Fiji isn’t in the cards, did the novel inspire you to get out of your comfort zone in some small way?   Maybe get your morning coffee at a different café or take a different route on your daily run?
13.   How much chocolate did you eat (or want to eat) while reading Pieces of Happiness?

About this Author

Anne Ostby is a Norwegian author and journalist who has written children’s books, YA, and adult books. Pieces of Happiness—translated by one of her three daughters, Marie—is the first to be published in the United States, and is also being published in 10 other countries, from Brazil to China to Italy. Ostby presently resides with her husband in East Timor, having lived in Denmark, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kazakstan, USA, Iran, Fiji over the last twenty-seven years.
 
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