By Barbara Davis
New American Library AccentOctober 2013

Trade Paperback384 pages, $15.00, ISBN: 9780451418777
Subject: Family / Women's Lives / Intrigue

  1. Running away rather than confronting uncomfortable situations is one of the themes of the book. What situations, past or present, is Leslie fleeing? Are the potential consequences she fears emotional, physical, or both?
  2. What other characters in the book are seeking to run away from something, and how does that avoidance express itself? What pitfalls do they encounter as a result?
  3. In the early part of the book, the relationship between Leslie and Jay is tense and wary. What events eventually lead them to realize they may have misjudged each other?
  4. How does Adele’s voice (first person, present tense) contribute to the overall flavor of the book? How did you feel about her story being told from beyond the grave?
  5. Do you have a favorite passage or scene from the book, and if so, what about it speaks to you?
  6. The book includes two women who evolve deeply as a result of story events. Discuss how Leslie and Adele change, learn, and grow over the course of the book. What specific events lead to this growth?
  7. Discuss Henry’s strengths and weaknesses. Though Adele never stops loving him, how does her perception of him change as the book progresses? How did you feel about his decision to send Jemmy away?
  8. How does Leslie’s sense of family evolve over the course of the novel, and what events or discoveries specifically influence that evolution?
  9. Discuss the concepts of forgiveness and redemption and how they are addressed in the book. Which characters require redemption and why? Which characters bestow forgiveness, and how is it shown?
  10. The heart wants what it wants is repeated several times throughout the book. Do you see Adele relinquishing Maggie to Susanne as an act of strength or weakness? Does love justify any action?
  11. At the end of the book, we discover that Adele is part African American and has been passing as white. How do you think southern society in the 1930s would have responded to someone like Adele, especially in light of her relationship with Henry?
  12. The book closes with Adele speaking of the choices she has made over her life, as well as the wages of her sins. How does her assertion that we can only choose in the moment and then live with what we have chosen stand up to your own beliefs about life choices and regret?