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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Twelve Times Blessed

In her fiercely honest, often funny, and exquisitely insightful novel, Twelve Times Blessed, Jacquelyn Mitchard follows the course of a woman's life through one defining year. During 12 astonishing months, businesswoman True Dickinson meets a much younger man, marries him within weeks, and then faces the consequences.

When the novel opens during a howling snowstorm, True is celebrating her 43rd birthday with friends at a chic Cape Cod restaurant. It is also Valentine's Day, and the restaurant is filled with cooing couples. Widowed in her 30s and left with a son to raise, True now finds herself--despite the millions made from her Internet baby gift business, Twelve Times Blessed--especially vulnerable, sensitive to the ticking of her biological clock, and ripe for a foolish infatuation. Or true love.

During the evening True meets Hank Bannister. A charming Southerner, Hank not only cooks for the restaurant; he owns it. Hank challenges her to a game of darts, flirts with her, lights a sexual fire between them, and later that night literally saves her life. This dashing young man appears to be a real hero. Or is he? Although dazzled by the stars in her eyes, True feels a dark undercurrent of mistrust: after all, Hank knows a great deal more about her than their chance meeting suggests.

Yet, perhaps love can conquer all. Dragging undisclosed emotional baggage along with them, True and Hank enter into a volatile, passionate union--sanctified by marriage. The effect of this new relationship on her son Guy, on her mother Katherine, and on her own self-esteem is far from predictable. And when the arrival of Hank's Creole family adds another element to their stormy relationship, True trumps this bump on the rocky road of love by intentionally becoming pregnant.

What happens next reveals the essence of a woman's heart with breathtaking clarity. The decisions that lay before True--to stay in or abandon the relationship, face her own past, deal with her self-destructive behaviors, and weigh the fates of her son, unborn child, and business--unfold with escalating drama. Season by season, a woman's life rolls by against the glorious backdrop of Cape Cod. Perhaps Jackie Mitchard's most romantic book, Twelve Times Blessed is a portrait of a woman that is filled with all the light and shadings of life's sorrows, joys, and dreams.

1. What are True's major character traits? What does her name suggest about her? What parallels, if any, are there with Emily Dickinson?

2. What are Hank's strengths and weaknesses? What attracts him to True? Did he encourage her insecurity? Does he betray her trust? Do men and women view sexual infidelity differently? How does True react to Hank's? Is it realistic?

3. Do you think the main conflict between Hank and True is their age difference? Is True's perception of the problem real, or exaggerated? How do you feel about older women and younger men?

4. Do you agree with the saying "Marry in haste, repent in leisure"? Or, if two people fall in love, virtually at first sight, do you believe that waiting is just a waste of time? Do True and Hank have more problems because of their quick wedding?

5. Another area of potential conflict for this relationship could be Hank's racial heritage. How do you feel about Hank's not directly revealing it to True? Do you think, in America, it is more or less significant than the age difference?

6. On the day of Hank's and True's wedding, the author writes, "A wedding, though a union, also is always a collision of conflicting interests, a competition of the most basic sort." Do you agree?

7. The concept of family, and the importance of family, hold a central place in this novel. Discuss Guy as a child and True as a mother--good and bad. What conflicts and benefits does Hank add? What makes a family different from a group of people who happen to live together--and which specific characters therefore are True's family?

8. How important are friends in a woman's life? What do Isabelle, Rudy, and Franny give to True? Do you think men have the same kinds of friendships as women?

9. This novel has an interesting structure, with each chapter representing a month. Why do you think the chapters open with sales copy from True's business? Are the months themselves, and what happens in each, symbolic, significant, or ironic?

10. Fate does indeed have a place in this book. What do you think about the fortune-telling episode? What do you think brings two people together: random chance or something else? Is there a divine plan for each of us

Twelve Times Blessed
by Jacquelyn Mitchard

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0066214750
  • ISBN-13: 9780066214757