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This reading group guide forHomecoming includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Eleanor Levine left Ireland seventy years ago with little more than a suitcase and her mother’s handwritten recipe book. Now, a lifetime later, she is a renowned psychoanalyst and has a family of her own. When life takes a dramatic turn, Eleanor decides to return to Ireland for some much-needed reflection. In Dublin’s Golden Square, Eleanor finds comfort in the book her mother gave her so many years ago and looks out her window into a community she is not a part of. There is the beautiful, young actress Megan Bouchier, who has a sadness in her eyes that goes well beyond her years; Connie O’Callaghan, a teacher who is approaching forty and giving up on love; and Rae Kerrigan, a loving wife and loyal friend, who has a painful secret that threatens to destroy everything she holds dear. The more Eleanor watches these special women, the more she is pulled out of her isolation and into their lives. But what Eleanor didn’t expect was that in helping them, she will ultimately heal herself.
TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What are your thoughts on Eleanor leaving her life and family in New York to return to Ireland alone? Do you think it is selfish of her to leave her family behind? Or do you think Eleanor is entitled to take some time for herself?
2. Eleanor decides to return to her roots when she needs to make a change in her life. Where would you choose to go if you needed a fresh start? And why?
3. Do you think Megan Bouchier is the person the tabloid and paparazzi is portraying her to be? Is going into hiding a good idea or should Megan confront the media?
4. Megan’s sister, Pippa, chooses her family over Megan. Do you agree with Pippa’s choice and her judgment of Megan? Do you think she should be more supportive of her sister?
5. Aunt Nora is a tough cookie. Why do you think Megan chose to stay with her? Do you think Nora is being too tough on Megan? What kinds of problems or issues is Nora dealing with when Megan arrives?
6. Rae is a kind, giving woman who is loved by the community. But her life was not always so perfect. Do you think that the person Rae is today is a direct result of the hardships she went through as a child and young adult? Has there ever been a time in your life where personal adversity resulted in some kind of positive outcome?
7. When you close your eyes, how do you picture Connie? Do you picture her the way she describes herself? Most important, do you think that Connie sees herself accurately when she looks in the mirror?
8. What do you think of Connie’s sister, Nicky? Do you think her confidence is the cause of Connie’s lack of confidence?
9. How did you react to the way Homecoming was organized? Did you like the use of journal entries? Do you yourself keep a journal?
10. Eleanor watches Megan, Connie, and Rae for a while before she begins interacting with them. Why did she make the decision to get to know each of the women and try to help them? What does this say about Eleanor as a character?
11. Connie is so caught up in mourning her broken engagement that she doesn’t even notice the man next door. How did you react when they started to fall in love? Have you ever been so blindsided that you didn’t even see what was right in front of you?
12. Why do you think that Eleanor needed to travel all the way to Kilomoney, where her life began, to find peace? Do you think Eleanor’s mother and Ralf were there with her? For all of her expertise Eleanor has in helping others, why couldn’t she help herself?
13. Put yourself in Rae’s shoes—what would you have done? Do you think Rae did the right thing by giving up her baby for adoption? Now put yourself in Tricia’s shoes—would you be able to have a relationship with Rae?
14. Do you think Megan did the right thing by apologizing to Katherine? What did you think of Katherine’s reaction? Have you ever had a difficult time apologizing to someone close to you?
15. Were you happy that Eleanor returned home in the end? Or did you want her to continue her life in Golden Square? Do you think returning home was the right thing for Eleanor? Or did she make the decision to go home for her family?
Cathy Kelly is the Irish bestselling author of twelve other novels, many of which have been number one bestsellers in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. She lives in Ireland with her husband and twin sons. In 2005 she was appointed an ambassador for UNICEF Ireland. Contact her on Twitter at @cathykellybooks or follow her on Facebook or at CathyKelly.com.