Book Club & Reading Group Discussion Questions...
1. When Victoria told her parents that she was pregnant, why do you think Alfredo reacted so dramatically?
2. Victoria danced with Salvatore under the stars on their wedding day. “The devotion of the man that held her in his arms would never allow her to entertain a future less than perfect” (pg 49). Red herring is a literary device that is designed to mislead the audience. How is this line an example of a red herring?
3. In a burst of courage, Victoria confronts Salvatore again and asks him “Why are you perpetuating a childhood you grew up despising” (p. 57)? What was she referring to? How did Salvatore’s childhood mold his personality?
4. Victoria had to leave her father without saying goodbye. What do you think would have happened if Alfredo knew she was going to America? Should Victoria have told her parents the truth of what was happening between her and Salvatore?
5. Do you think Victoria’s journey to America was characteristic of the immigration experience? Why or why not?
6. “Its magnificence was indescribable, and its magnitude was inconceivable. She felt overwhelmed in the presence of its greatness” (Pg 87). Try to imagine how Victoria felt when she first saw New York City. How do you think the immigrants perceived New York City when they first arrived?
7. What disease did Gennaro have that caused him to be taken from his family? Why was that disease so prevalent in New York City at the time?
8. Victoria always had sensed something was not right with Santo. Since he was a child, Santo was active and impulsive, and he had trouble concentrating in school. Do you think these symptoms were indicative of ADHD? How would it be different if he were a student today?
9. Santo also struggled with alcoholism since he was a teenager. Do you think that his personality was predisposed to addictive behavior? How did it contribute to his fate?
10. Why do you think Catherina became so involved in the Suffragist movement? How was the fact that Catherina was literate foster her thinking and passion?
11. “Gabriella had blossomed into a precocious child. If she felt like singing, she belted out a song. If she had a question, she would ask” (p. 193). How did her personality change through the course of the story?
12. Why was it so difficult for Gabriella to make the decision to divorce Vito?
13. “Rosa had a passive nature, whereas Louisa was a whirlwind. Victoria tried her best to be equally attentive to all her children, but Louisa was exhausting. Her energy electrified a room, overshadowing and overwhelming the rest” (p. 152). This is an instance of foreshadowing. Explain.
14. Louisa has exhibited both compulsive and depressive tendencies since she was a child. Doctor Baileys says “What we think has happened is that it has been compounded by the traumatic stress brought on by the incident, causing her profound breakdown” (p. 285). Do you think what she did to Marco could have triggered her severe mental condition?
15. Patsy McFadden makes his first appearance in the story at Charlie’s funeral. How was that symbolic of his character in the story?
16. How is Frank Fanello’s nickname, Blackie, symbolic of his character? How did his childhood shape his personality?
17. “He looked to the future with appreciation instead of apprehension, because “every day you’re alive is a beautiful day” (p. 383). How is this quote characteristic of Vinny’s personality? What motivated Vinny?
18. Vinny was honest with Ava in the beginning, telling her he could not divorce Sarah for religious beliefs. Do you think Vinny should have divorced Sarah? How could he have handled the situation differently?
19. Sarah's backround was so different from Vinny's. What besides Sarah’s beauty attracted her to Vinny?
20. When Vinny discovered Sarah had moved to New York City, he chose not to contact her right away. Why? If Vinny had known that Sarah had really wanted to meet him on the beach three years earlier and that her father forbid her to go, do you think Vinny would have tried to see her again right away?
21. Why do you think Vinny and Tony stayed friends throughout their lives? How were they similar? How were they different?
22. In the course of the story many of the characters meet their fate. How did you feel when they passed?
23. Vinny was close with his family, especially Catherina. Why did it take him up to the birth of Clare before he told her about Ava and the baby?
24. Victoria, Catherina, and Ava fell in love with an older man. Why do you think they were attracted to older men?
25. How is Victoria’s name symbolic to her character?
26. One of the themes in the story is about making choices, living with the consequences, and not beating yourself up about it. Name an instance in the story where a character made a decision that didn’t turn out the way they had hoped. How did they cope with the consequences?
27. There are many other themes that run throughout the story—The loss and rebound of hope, overcoming fear, conquering the unknown, discovering strength, honesty, perseverance, and forgiveness. What are some other themes in this story? What do you think the main theme was in the story?
28. “Confession is good for the soul even after the soul has been claimed” (p. 381). Why do you think Patsy McFadden chose to tell the Montanaro family the truth in his last will and testament.
29. “The bequest was so astronomical that it had taken him years to come to terms with where it had come from, and the clarity to make the decision as to where it should go” (p. 384). Why did it take Vinny so long to decide what to do with the money he had inherited?
30. How would the course of Victoria and her children’s lives been different if she hadn’t gone to America? How much of a person’s character is shaped by the times in which he or she lives?