1. The novel spans nearly 150 years and covers four generations. Which of those did you find most compelling and why?
2. Some of the characters' actions have long-term, far reaching ramifications. Which single decision had the most impact on the story?
3. David's story begins in 1834. Could you imagine an entirely different life if he had:
(a) become a doctor
(b) stayed in Gibraltar
4. Put yourself in Rachel's shoes. Did she make the right decision in giving up Laurent? Would it have been possible for her to continue the secret relationship? What might have happened if she had left David?
5. Do you have sympathy with Dina? Do you think she was strong or selfish?
6. Anna is the link between the generations. Are you sympathetic to her feelings of resentment?
Should she have acted differently, for example when her mother forbade her to travel, when she finally discovered the will?
7. Who do you think are the stronger characters, the men or the women? In their religious observance who was most influential in passing on their beliefs and practices?
8. How do you think that food affected the characters? (for example David and Rachel had such different views on entertaining, as did Anna and Nathan). Do you think the recipes and entries from the notebooks hide or heighten what is happening in the characters' lives?
9. What effect do external experiences have on characters, for example the earthquake on David, the war on Anna and Nathan? Did their experiences make them stronger or less able to deal with friction in their lives?
10. What difference would it have made, if David had not hidden his secret?