Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
To what extent is Reynaud the villain of the piece? Is it possible to
understand or sympathize with the motivations and feelings behind his
Reynaud and Vianne seem to be natural enemies from the start, and yet they
both have significant elements in common: a haunted past, a desire for
acceptance. How do you think this affects their relationship?
The preparation and eating of food is decribed in detail in many parts of
the book. What is the significance of this, and what do the attitudes of the
main characters towards food show about their personalities?
The author uses the first-person narrative voice for both of her principal
characters. Why do you feel she does this, and how effective is each in
showing the character's attitudes and motivations?
Vianne appears to other people as a strong and confident woman, but is
secretly filled with fears and insecurities. To what extent do you think she
has been strengthened or damaged by her relationship with her bohemian
The themes of moving on and settling down recur frequently in the book.
Why do you think Vianne wants so badly to remain in the village? Do you
think she eventually decides to stay?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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