The Favorite Daughter
by Patti Callahan Henry
Discussion Questions:
1. In the prologue, we are at a wedding that has gone horribly wrong. Have you been a part of or heard about a wedding that fell apart at the last minute? Should Colleen have disappeared like she did or stayed to face the situation? Should she have replied to her sister and family or ignored them?

2. After a terrible betrayal, the sisters Colleen and Hallie haven’t spoken in ten years. Has there been someone in your life who betrayed you? How did you handle it? How can people reconcile after a betrayal?

3. When Lena changes her life, she changes her name to Colleen. Are names powerful enough to change a life? Have you ever changed your name? Has anyone you know? Can that change signify a different life?

4. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, and in this novel it both brings the family together and also tears them apart. Have you had an experience with dementia or Alzheimer’s? How has it affected you and/or your family and loved ones?

5. When Colleen returns to Watersend from New York City, the memories come flooding back. Have you had an experience where you return to a place and the memories also return? Can memories be hidden in geography? Does landscape hold memories? How did the landscape influence Colleen’s transformation?

6. The pub, the Lark, plays a prominent role in the novel. It is a community gathering place as well as a family’s heritage. How do you think the pub brought the Donohue family together? The community? Do you have a place like this in your life? Do you think places like this are important to a town or city?

7. Colleen’s job as a travel writer keeps her from putting down roots. She realizes later that it also allows her to avoid intimate connections. Are there things you do to keep your heart safe from hurt? Can we keep our hearts safe—and should we? Did staying away end up helping or hurting Colleen?

8. Colleen unearths a secret about her parents, and this discovery opens her eyes to the past in a new way. What had once been confusing now seems clear. Have you discovered something about your family and seen the past through new eyes? Did this change your choices or your life?

9. Colleen connects with the nieces she had never known and this softens her heart. Can children bring a family closer together? Is it the innocence of children or their reminder that family matters? Have children brought you closer to your family in any way?

10. At the end of the novel, Colleen travels to Ireland to see the land her father loved. Why do you think it was important for Colleen to visit? Is it important to know your roots? To understand where you came from and why?

11. Shane, Colleen and Hallie’s brother, stays above the fray of the sisters’ embittered feud while also keeping the family together by running the pub and taking care of their father. Do siblings often find different roles to play in a family? What are yours?

12. The bonds we share with our siblings is an integral part of this novel—the good and the not-so-good. How do these relationships shape each character? How have your sibling relationships shaped your character?

13. Each sister believes the other to be the “favorite.” Do you think this often happens in families? Has it happened in yours? How does that perception affect a child? An adult? You?

14. Hallie attempts to reconcile numerous times, but Colleen won’t speak to her or answer her mail until their father falls ill. Can tragedy bring families together? Has it ever brought yours together and how?

15. Colleen has spent the last ten years trying to decide what defines “home.” In the end, she is finally able to do so. How would you define “home,” and what does it mean to you? Can you have more than one home? Is it a place or is it the people?

Book Club Talking Points:

Family betrayal and forgiveness are at the heart of this book. It also explores the importance of memory, showing the difficulties of dealing with Alzheimer disease, as well as delving into issues of deception, trust, friendship, and love.
(Discussion Questions by Publisher)


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