Planning a book club reading of Lisa McGuinness’s novel of love and discovery across generations, Catarina’s Ring? Here are some discussion questions to get you going. Don’t forget the wine and snacks—and watch this space for Catarina’s Ring-inspired recipes to make your next book club meeting extra delicious.
1. Sometimes there are obstacles between our dreams and our ability to achieve them. What were Juliette and Catarina’s dreams, and what stood in each woman’s way?
2. Catarina says that life takes “grace and grit.” How does that philosophy dictate the way she lives her life? How does it eventually dictate Juliette’s life as well?
3. What does Juliette find appealing about Roman? Even though he ultimately hurts her, does their relationship bring out positive change for Juliette?
4. If you were in Catarina’s place, and had fallen in love on the ship on your way to marrying a stranger, would you keep your promise at the risk of being unhappy, or would you choose to stay with Gregorio?
5. The novel alternates between two time periods, early twentieth century and modern day. Did you prefer one story line over the other? Why?
6. When the novel begins, Juliette has been fired from a prestigious job and is feeling unsure of herself. How does she gradually overcome her insecurity?
7. One of the themes throughout the novel is that people, no matter when they are born, share common experiences—from big things like loving and losing family or feeling afraid of what the future holds, to small things like eating when hungry or squinting against the sun. What are some other experiences people share no matter what time period they’re in?
8. Towards the end of the novel, the ring Juliette has inherited from Catarina is stolen. Have you ever experienced losing something that was irreplaceable?
9. In a letter from Catarina to her friend Maria, Catarina tells her friend to “choose happiness.” Do you think happiness in life is a choice? If so, how can one choose it?
10. Both Franco and Ian are solid, good men who make Catarina and Juliette happy. Do you think they could have been equally happy with Roman and Gregorio?