In Lily’s opening blog, she suggests a romantic ideal for marriage: We want to be held but we want the hold to be loose. We want our partner to admire our speed and grace in flight but not to tug on the towline. We need to make sure the line doesn’t tangle or knot. We try to balance who gets the flying time and when.
Mostly we want our partners to understand what we want and need, admire it good and worthy, and help us to fulfill it. If that is the underlying principle of a successful marriage then our couples were doomed from the very start. How could these characters have been so wrong?
Willow wanted quiet and stability after a life on the go, a man she could dote on, children, and a stable job. Th e man she chose had some loose wires. He knew Willow would be good for him but wanting isn’t the same as being.
Blake fell for Jillian’s single-minded ambition. Did he think that would translate to a life that would be good for him or did he just not think beyond the now? Jillian couldn’t believe anyone could take her and ballet on as an equal partner. If Blake could do that, could she overlook whatever other shortcomings he might have?
Regardless of Stephen’s dissatisfaction over time, Lily couldn’t see anything but a long-distance arrangement. She just didn’t have the imagination or trust for compromise. So where did that leave them?
- Willow and Denny were at odds from the beginning. Willow was very clear about the life she expected to have with him. When Denny joined the Marines, he was sending a clear signal to her. Why do you think she stayed and waited for him?
- Do you think that love or what they thought was love obscured the truth of troubles ahead to either Willow, Denny, or both of them?Could Denny possibly have believed he could be what Willow wanted? More importantly, why would he even have wanted that if it was so far from who he was?And Willow? She was an 18-year-old girl with her whole life ahead of her? Why did she pin everything on a boy who was obviously not ready for the responsibility she demanded?
- Willow wanted a baby more than anything in the world. Do you think it was wrong to deceive Denny and try to get pregnant without him knowing or could it be justified?
- Denny and his friend, Joe, shared similar experiences as Marines. Yet, they had very different personalities. Do you think Joe’s inability to accept his son’s birth defect and the trouble in his marriage strongly influenced Denny or did it not make any real difference?
- Jillian never wanted anything more than to be a ballet soloist. What was it that initially attracted her to Blake? Why do you think she married him before her career got started?Blake knew that ballet came first in life when he decided to marry her. Was it an unrealistic romantic idea he had of her or something else?
- Jillian worked tirelessly from the time she was a child toward one goal. What do you think allowed her to be so easily cowed by Madame Olga and give up all she ever wanted?
- Blake knew firsthand how strong her Jillian’s need was to be a dancer. Yet, he hardly questioned her decision to give it up.Why did they get pregnant right away? Jillian experienced postpartum depression that was never addressed. What were the repercussions of that throughout their marriage?
- Lily convinced herself that she couldn’t have the career she wanted and a relationship. Do you think it’s true that in some careers a choice has to be made?
- Why did Lily push herself so hard? Were there similarities between her and Jillian? Do you think the pressure they both put themselves under contributed to making bad decisions?
- Through all the years of their marriage, Blake and Jillian have different sensibilities and values from the big things to the daily tasks. Blake tries hard to make up for that Jillian can’t or won’t give Chelsea but Jillian also tries, in her own way. What do you think either one of them could have done differently to make for a better home life?
- Why did Jillian have such a hard time with Chelsea? Did her fascination with Philip and his daughter, Allegra, exacerbate the problems, or did it make no real difference at all?
- Blake and Willow’s relationship develops slowly. Neither of them are intentionally looking yet what they need is right in front of them. How did you feel about that? Did you feel it was wrong from the start or did you want them to fall in love?
- Does the information Blake discovers about Denny and shares with Willow help create empathy for his actions or inactions?Does it create better understanding for Denny’s motivations and inability to give Willow what she wants? Do you think there is anything Willow might have done to help Denny or help her get what she wanted from him?
- Lily doesn’t see the impact her job is having on her. We don’t have to be witnessing world crises to be traumatized and not realize it. Can you think of other examples within the novel of extreme stress that is not acknowledged or simply avoided?
- Friendship between women is key in this story. Willow and her sister, Autumn. Jillian and Georgia. Lily and Amber. What role did these relationships play in the trajectory of their growth and change?
- How do you think the three women—Willow, Jillian, Lily— are similar? How do they diff er? Do you think the ending was right for them? Did it get them closer to what they wanted all along?
- What about the men? Where do you see Denny, Blake, and Stephen in ten years?