Reading Group Guide
1. How do you feel about the opening statement, “Love can overcome anything?”
2. When you first met Margaret, did you believe the explanation she gave John? Why or why not? People have a tendency to make rash judgments about others; why do you think that is when we are so often proven wrong?
3. If you were John, would you have gone to the first meeting with Margaret at the boarding house? Explain your answer. Do you think he had any other choice?
4. Try to put yourself in Hannah’s position. What would your initial reaction have been upon discovering that John’s first wife was still alive? Would you have been angry? If so, with whom --- John, Margaret . . . God? And what about John? Do you think he was fooling himself, trying to dodge the inevitable truth, or did he truly believe there was an answer to his and Hannah’s dilemma?
5. How did you feel about Reverend Taylor’s advice to John and Hannah? Considering the era, do you think it was correct? Would you have done as he suggested? If that same scenario were to happen today, would his advice be different?
6. Hannah chooses to live out her faith, and her response to Margaret is charitable. She does what is right even at great personal loss. How do you think you would react? Have you ever experienced anything like this?
7. John and Hannah try to move on with their lives, but each day is filled with loss and sorrow. How does a person go on under such painful circumstances? Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who is walking an agonizing path?
8. How did you feel when John and Hannah gave in to their passion for one another? Their personal responses were quite different. John felt that what happened was not immoral, while Hannah was horrified at her behavior and ordered him to leave. Who do you think was right? Why?
9. After John leaves, Hannah needs to find dreams of her own. If you were writing this story, what dreams would you have given her?
10. The scene where the pigs get into the garden is a picture of Hannah’s life. What do you think it represents? And when Thomas is bitten, do you think it also fits into the analogy? How about Hannah and Thomas’s response to the mayhem?
11. John and Hannah are in a quagmire --- they love each other, but there is no legal or moral way for them to live as husband and wife. All seems lost. This appears to be too difficult even for God. Have you been in a situation where circumstances were so complicated and overwhelming there seemed to be no answer? How did you feel? What did you do?
12. Were you surprised to discover that Hannah was pregnant? Were you happy for her or did you think this was just one more complication?
13. John’s friend Perry says he’d have found a way to divorce Margaret. Hannah, on the other hand, says marriage is marriage and that John should do the honorable thing. Do you think there is just cause for divorce outside the obvious reasons of infidelity or physical abuse?
14. Dalton is the first to speak up about his misgivings about Margaret. The information is hearsay and has nothing to do with John and Margaret’s marriage. Would this be classified as gossip? And if so, should he still have told Hannah what he’d heard? Has there been a time in your life when you felt certain something wasn’t “just right” and felt compelled to speak up? Listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and speaking out is not the same as gossiping. How do we tell the difference?
15. When John became ill with quinsy (now known as diphtheria) Hannah went to help him. Do you think she was being irresponsible? After all, she was not only placing her own life in jeopardy, but that of her unborn child.
16. Although Hannah had doubts about Margaret, why do you suppose she waited so long to look squarely at the evidence presented to her? Do you believe her stated reason of not wanting to cause John more pain was true, or was there something else going on?
17. Both John and Hannah had good friends who stood with them through this ordeal. Without loyal friends the trial would have been more difficult and might well have had a different conclusion. Good friends are an important element in life. Do you have a friend you can count on, no matter what? Have they made a difference in your life? How so?
18. Weston Douglas and Margaret Bradshaw are truly heinous people, who by the world’s standards do not deserve forgiveness. Yet Hannah chose to forgive. Do you think it’s truly possible to forgive such a terrible wrong? If so, how can it be accomplished?
19. John and Hannah experienced a great deal of suffering, beginning in London, yet they never let go of their faith. How would you have felt if God had allowed them to go their separate ways and John and Margaret had truly made a new beginning --- would that have been fair?
20. Who are your favorite and least favorite characters? Why?