Snowfall at Willow Lake
MIRA (February 2008)
- Noah has never lived anywhere but the dairy farm where he grew up, which he’s converted into the veterinary hospital. How has this placed limits on him, and how does it contribute to the conflict in his relationship with Sophie?
- Sophie has lived all over the world. How has this placed limits on her, and how does it contribute to her ambivalence about settling in a small town?
- During the hostage crisis, Sophie commits an irrevocable act. Was it justified? Have you ever imagined yourself in a life-or-death situation?
- Both Sophie and Daisy were extremely young mothers, but they both made different choices about their futures. Which would you choose?
- After meeting Sophie, Noah’s dreams of the future change. Is that realistic? Can meeting a certain person change your dreams? Has it ever happened to you?
- Do you feel critical of Sophie for choosing to let her kids live with their dad while she moves overseas? If she was a man, would your opinion change?
- Have you ever made a choice between career and family? Was it difficult, or a no-brainer? What sacrifices did you make?
- If you read The Ocean Between Us (2004), you might remember that Steve Bennett was called by duty to go on deployment for six months at a time. How does his career and schedule compare to Sophie’s? Are you more sympathetic to one or the other?
- Have you ever dated someone significantly younger than you? Was the dynamic different?
- Was Noah out of line, giving Max a dog?
- Did Sophie earn a second chance to be a mom? What do you think she’ll do differently this time around?
- Do you think Noah will be fulfilled by the family he’s made with Sophie? How is this different from the future he thought he wanted?
The situation in Umoja, although fictional, is based on actual events in numerous nations of sub-Saharan Africa. What can an individual do to help alleviate the situation? How can one insure that a diamond is “conflict-free”?
- Looking ahead, do you see a potential book starring any of the secondary characters? Which ones, and how do you see the story playing out?
Whew! All that work calls for refreshment. At the reception in The Hague, gougeres are served with champagne. Here’s a sneak peek at this easy, elegant pastry recipe:
Gougeres originated in France, and are traditionally served this time of year, with champagne–dry, not brut.
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the water, butter and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to moderate. Add flour all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from side of pan.
Transfer mixture–known as pate a choux–to a bowl and use an electric mixer to beat in the eggs, one at a time. If the batter is too stiff, add another egg.
Stir the Gruyere into the pate a choux and drop by tablespoons about one inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake for about twenty-five minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.