Reading guide for Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman

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Blue Diary

by Alice Hoffman

Blue Diary
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2001, 336 pages
    Aug 2002, 304 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!


When Ethan Ford fails to show up for work on a brilliant summer morning, none of his neighbors would guess that for more than thirteen years, he has been running from his past. His true nature has been locked away, as hidden as his real identity. But sometimes locks spring open, and the devastating truths of Ethan Ford's history shatter the small-town peace of Monroe, affecting family and friends alike.

Discussion Questions
  1. In Blue Diary, Alice Hoffman uses imagery from the natural world to mirror events that take place in the lives of her characters. Why is it portentous when she writes in Chapter One that lilies "only last for a single day, and then, no matter what a person might do to save them, they are fated, by God, or circumstance, or nature, to fade away?" What else in the novel is as ephemeral as the lilies Hoffman describes?
  2. Things are not always as they seem in Monroe, Massachusetts. Do the beautiful people in the novel have more to hide than those who are less physically blessed? What do you think Hoffman might be trying to say about physical beauty?
  3. Why does Kat "save" Rosarie from running away with Ethan, if she knows it will mean staying on the losing end of her sister's mean behavior all her life?
  4. Kat asserts that her decision to report Ethan to the police had nothing to do with the loss of her own father. Do you believe her? Why or why not?
  5. Why does Jorie, after reading Rachel Morris's last diary entry, immediately decide to leave Ethan, and her hometown, behind? What does James Morris mean when he says Jorie will know what to do if she reads the diary?
  6. Loyalty and devotion are important themes in Blue Diary. Do you think Jorie shows sufficient loyalty to her husband?
  7. Charlotte Kite endures divorce, the loss of both her parents in high school, and breast cancer, but she finds a lover in Barney Stark. Jorie leads a charmed life until her husband's heinous crimes are revealed. Which woman has had to endure more? Which situation is resolved better?
  8. Should the deeds from our past be used to judge us in the present? Does benevolent behavior in the recent past "undo" reprehensible behavior from long ago?

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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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