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Reading guide for Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

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Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

Where the Light Enters

by Sara Donati
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  • First Published:
  • Sep 10, 2019
  • Paperback:
  • Aug 2020
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. The title of the book comes from a quote attributed to Rumi: "The wound is the place where the light enters." In the story, who is wounded, and what light are those people finding or failing to find?
  2. The shipwreck survivors—Catherine Bellegarde in particular—awaken the sleeping physician inside Sophie. Would this have happened on its own, in time? Or did she need something to jolt her from that slumber?
  3. Elise plays many parts in the story. She's finding her way in a new life and profession, and experiencing many things for the first time. How does she change from the beginning of the book to the end? What do you think of her chosen path in medical science?
  4. Rosa and Lia name houses for things that are apparent to the eye: Roses, Weeds, Larks, Doves, and, hilariously, Fish. But is there a deeper significance in the connections between the names of the houses and their inhabitants?
  5. 5. Rosa and Lia struggle with the choices that have been made for them, most often against their will. Rosa has a growing resentment and contempt for the Catholic Church. How has it changed Lia?
  6. Are the adults in Rosa's life doing the right thing for her? How does the fact that Anna and Sophie both lost their parents inform the way they treat her?
  7. Anna struggles with the idea of being pregnant. Why?
  8. What do you imagine was going on in the Griffin household that would make Sam Reason prefer not to board there?
  9. Anna and Jack seem to have settled into a comfortable routine. How is it that these two, who are very different in so many ways, should be on such good terms? Is it as simple as opposites attracting?
  10. Anthony Comstock expended great time and energy on arresting and prosecuting physicians, midwives, and pharmacists, and at one point had an eye on Sophie and Anna. What are his real motivations? What drives him?
  11. Discuss the role of the Catholic Church in addressing the needs of the many thousands of orphaned children who were homeless in Manhattan in the 1880s. Where did the church succeed and where did it fail, and how?
  12. Newspaper extracts are used throughout the book. How do those stories contribute to the various plotlines and the setting?
  13. Men are drawn to Sophie, but she is in mourning and has no interest in a new relationship. Which of the men currently in her life might she be interested in when enough time has passed? Why?
  14. The book ends with a gathering of women, almost a council, with Lily Quinlan as the clan mother of them all. How do you feel that reflects the overall theme of Where the Light Enters specifically and the greater Wilderness world in general?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Berkley Books. 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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