If you would like Sheila to attend your book club meeting by Skype or Facetime, please write to her at email@example.com. She will be happy to discuss her work, or her writing process, or how she began to write fiction after a long career in museums. Or if you prefer, send her questions you'd like her to address.
Here are some questions for discussion. (You can download them, below, in a pdf.) If you want to know what happens after the end of the story, check out the epilogue here.
1. As sometimes happens in marriages, Paul and Maggie Adler take different approaches to things. When it comes to desire, Paul is greedy while Maggie habitually abstains. Which of them leads a more successful life?
2. The story is told in two different voices, in alternating chapters that merge only at the end of the book. Did you enjoy the alternation? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this format?
3. Maggie and Paul both object to their daughter’s plan to marry a “stranger.” How much of the conflict between Jenn and her parents stems from generational differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers? Discuss the trickiness of being a parent to a young adult.
4. Sarah and Maggie became friends in college, and although their lives took different trajectories—and Sarah could never stand Paul—the friendship persisted. What do the two women mean to each other? Will Sarah ever settle down?
5. Paul runs his own laboratory in the highly competitive environment of scientific research. He disagrees with his peers, who are following a trend in “personalized medicine” that, he believes, misleads the public. Is the way Paul handles his work justified, given its potential importance for elucidating cancer?
6. Paul dislikes Robert Stamford, who oversees all research at the hospital, although they were once colleagues. What’s behind this dislike? Why does Stamford help Hope Caldwell leave Paul’s employ?
7. Jenn tells her parents that although her fiancé Arun’s way of thinking doesn’t quite match her own, his methods work wonders with children—and with her, too—and she wants to devote herself to his work. What is it about Arun that appeals to Jenn? His philosophy? His person? The lure of the exotic? Leaving the past behind? Is she wise to follow him half way around the world?
8. Maggie tolerated her husband’s infidelity yet observed her marriage vows until shortly after Jenn’s return. Why did she take up with Brian Sayler and then abandon him? Did she make a mistake?
9. What do you suppose happens after the book ends? Does Maggie come back from India? If so, to what? What does Paul do at the lab? Do Jenn's marriage plans work out?