You and/or your book club group may find this guide helpful in discussing the book.
Content: Questions/Topics followed by List of the Book's Characters.
Ideas for Topics/Questions to Discuss
(Possible Spoiler Alert: It might be best to read the book first before reading on)
1. With regard to the story’s time and place, set in the early 50s to early 90s: How do you think the book captured the essence of those times? Could the story be told in another time and place effectively, and how did the descriptions of time and place help you relate to the story?
2. Do the characters in the book feel "real," and to which did you relate the most?
3. Regarding the music in the story: If you didn’t recognize the music, did you have a sense of it without actually hearing it? That said, how were you affected by Alice Bock’s music the evening the book began, the song on the radio playing just before the tragedy, and by Renata’s piano performance in Chicago? How do you think the music was important to the story?
4. Do you think that the Concho City law firm and private detective hired by the senior Randolphs acted any more ethically than did Cully and his lawyer in Pecan Valley? Is there any circumstance when unethical behavior is “right?”
5. How do you think Cady felt about her grandparents deceiving her about Renata being dead, about their not telling her about the existence of Turner, and about learning that they'd told Renata and her family that Jonas was dead? How did you feel about the deceit?
6. Regarding the hamburger that Jonas went to buy for Renata the night of the tragedy: In what ways do you think it impacts Cady’s life going forward when she meets Bill Armand, and how might her life/choices have been different if she'd met Mr. Armand earlier?
7. How do you feel Renata’s letter of admission to Cady impacted Cady’s feelings toward Renata? How did that letter impact your view of Renata?
8. Regarding Cully, Park, and Turner: Why do you think Cully was who he was , that Park made the choices he did; and how did you react toward the end of the book when Turner did what he did to Cully?
9. Do you think being given Jonas's ring will change Park’s life going forward?
10. Do you think there’s a moral to this story? If so, what would you say it is?
The Book’s Characters
Narrator: 3rd person omniscient
In Alphabetical Order:
The Randolph Clan:
Cady Frances Randolph-Protagonist
Cullen (Cully) Harden Randolph-Antagonist, Cady’s uncle
Frances Harrington Randolph-Cady’s grandmother
Jonas Randolph Jr. -Cady’s father
Jonas Randolph Sr. -Cady’s grandfather
Parkton (Park) Gerard Randolph-Jonas Sr.'s nephew adopted by the senior Randolphs
Renata Rose Collins Randolph- Cady’s mother
Turner Mitchell Randolph-Renata’s son
Characters outside the Clan:
Bill Armand-witness/cook in Concho City
Max Aronson-Renata's business partner in the 40s
Alice Bock-neighbor in Concho City
Miriam Collins-Renata’s sister in Atlanta
Marvin Gauthier-loan shark in New Orleans
Robert Grafton, Sr. and partners-law firm in Concho City
Ray Harlow-private investigator in Concho City
Rachel Moon Hawkins-Randolph family housekeeper in Pecan Valley, close family friend
Jebediah “Toady” Hawkins-deceased husband of Rachel
Lottie Hebert-landlady in the French Quarter, New Orleans
Darnell Houghton-music teacher in Concho City
Gerta James-Secretary, law firm in Concho City
Harold Jones-Judge in Concho City
June Ann-waitress at the Lone Star in Pecan Valley
Marjorie Lane- the girl Park didn’t marry
Leigh-Cady’s friend in Maryland
Nancy and John Earl-couple in Pecan Valley, close friends of Cady
Halford Palmer-lawyer in Pecan Valley
Carl Abbott “Sweezer” Riley-Cady’s first and dear friend in Concho City
Faithful and Joe Riley-Sweezer’s parents
Ruby-jail matron Concho City
Richard-Cady’s one time husband in New York City
Daniel Sarnoff-Cady’s lost true love
Lynn Simms-neighbor/family friend in Pecan Valley
Dell Wayne Wilson-Cady’s childhood friend-turned-companion from Pecan Valley
The yellow cats next door