Reading Group Guide
1. What do you see as the immediate appeal of Will? Of Charlie? Would you have chosen Will or Charlie as Nealie’s husband?
2. Do you believe Mrs. Travers knew Nealie was pregnant? What were the options and limitations of an unmarried pregnant woman had in 1880.
3. What was the real reason Charlie married Nealie --- love or money? What evidence do you have for your opinion?
4. Why did Charlie want to control Pearl? Why does any parent want to control their child?
5. Do you believe Frank’s motivations for pursuing Pearl were mercenary or genuinely emotional? Did they change from his initial relationship with her?
6. Why did Pearl remain in the Bride’s House after she discovered her father’s role in Frank’s breaking the engagement?
7. Describe what you think Pearl’s reaction would have been in finding and reading the documents in the strong box. Would she have forgiven her father for keeping secrets?
8. Describes Pearl’s strengths and weaknesses as a mother.
9. If Peter had lived, would Susan have married him? Would it have been a happy marriage? If she chose not to marry him, would she have regretted that choice?
10. What do you think Susan’s daughter --- her baby has to be a daughter, of course --- would be like?
11. What ways are the three women --- Nealie, Pearl, and Susan --- alike? In what ways different? With whom did you most identify? With whom did you feel the most sympathy?
12. Should the secrets have been kept? How would the women’s lives have been different if they had known about the documents in the strong box?