Reading Group Guide
1. The difficulties Colin McGinty and Alice Kessler experienced sprang from mistakes made by their grandparents, William McGinty, the artist, and Eleanor Styles, with whom he fell tragically in love. What were these mistakes, and what did you think of the choices they ultimately made about their love for one another?
2. In Eleanor’s time, when a woman got pregnant out of wedlock, there were few socially acceptable options available to her. What different decisions or actions might Eleanor have made or taken if she had lived in today’s world and this had happened? What changes have occurred in people’s attitudes and in the laws that have changed the social landscape?
3. In the author’s story, what role did the border collies play in connecting the present to the past?
4. Similarly, what function did the establishment and growth of Colin’s oyster beds serve as a story-telling device?
5. How do you think you would react if, like Alice, you had witnessed your son’s death at the hands of a negligent driver? Who suffered the most from this tragic accident—Alice; Lowell White; Alice’s other son, Jeremy, or Alice’s husband, Randy?
6. Colin commented in the story that he’d always heard that great art was born of great suffering. How did the author demonstrate this in Woman in Red? What did you think of the ultimate destiny of the portrait?
7. Ultimately, Woman in Red is about second chances. What characters in the story had second chances? Which characters made good choices the second time, and which ones didn’t? In your own life, have you experienced any second chances, and, if so, how wise were you in your second choices?
8. When Colin sells his grandfather’s beloved painting of Eleanor, how is it a gift to William? What did the sale bring to his grandfather that had eluded him in life?
9. In reading Woman in Red, what do you think you learned about the author’s values? What is important to her? What makes her angry? With what is she impatient, and what does she respect?
10. If you were to write a sequel to Woman in Red, what characters would you feature? What do you think these characters would pursue? What would their challenges be? Who would work against them, and who would help them?