Reading Group Guides

Reading Group Guides

Summer by the Sea (reissue)

Harlequin MIRA (June 2015)
Trade Paperback
ISBN-10: 0778318532
ISBN-13: 978-0778318538
Reading Guide

  1. How do you think Rosa’s life would have been different if she had been able to attend Brown University? What kind of career path do you imagine her following?
  2. In a similar vein, do you believe that Rosa and Alex would have been able to sustain their relationship if she had joined him at Brown? Or do you believe that the various obstacles standing in their way (Alex’s mother, different lifestyles and family values) would have eventually come between them?
  3. The relationship between food and family plays a large role in the novel. Do you think that Rosa’s memories of her mother cooking and taking care of her family were what truly inspired her to open her own restaurant?
  4. In the novel, Mrs. Montgomery used the payment of Pete’s medical bills as a means to keep Alex and Rosa apart. But after the discovery of her direct involvement in his accident, do you now have different thoughts about her motivations? And do you believe that Alex’s childhood illnesses and subsequent dependency on his mother made him more inclined to bow to her wishes?
  5. Mrs. Montgomery and Mrs. Capoletti each took very different approaches to mothering. How do you think this shaped the people Alex and Rosa grew up to be?
  6. Summer romances are part of growing up, particularly in summer tourism communities like Winslow. We see Alex and Rosa have a happy ending to what has essentially been a lifelong summer romance. How often do you think such romances blossom into something more? And do you see that possibility for Joey and Whitney?
  7. Compare and contrast the roles that family relationships plays in the lives of Alex and Rosa. How do you think their different experiences will influence their future as a couple and as potential parents?
  8. Rosa and Alex are each forced to accept hard truths about their parents at several points in the novel. Discuss how growing up and learning to view your parents as “adult peers” changes family dynamics and interactions.
  9. At the end of the novel, it’s implied that the thought her long-ago crime being brought to light was what compelled Mrs. Montgomery to take her own life. Do you think that, without that fear of discovery, events may have turned out differently for her? Or do you believe that there were other factors that prompted her actions?
  10. Rosa and Alex have both led lives of privilege — she with a loving, supportive family to surround her, and he with more financial and social privilege. How does this affect the dynamics of their relationship and the way they relate to others?
  11. What is the significance of the “souvenirs” (the nautilus shell and the mermaid’s purse) that Rosa and Alex have held onto over the years?
  12. Do you imagine Rosa and Alex staying in Winslow? What do you think their future together will be like?