1. What were your ﬁrst impressions of Ann and Ruth?
Who do you identify with more? Who do you think would be more fun
to be around? Who would make a better friend?
2. What did you think of Elizabeth Berg's decision to construct
her novel by going back and forth between the past and present?
What did you like,or dislike,about this narrative structure?
3. How would the book have been different if Ruth was the
narrator, instead of Ann? Would the story have been the same? Why
or why not, and in what ways?
4. As she reﬂects on the male/female dynamic, Ann
thinks, "The truth is, we usually only show our unhappiness to
another woman. I suppose this is one of our problems. And yet it is
also one of our strengths" (page 29). What do you think about this
statement? Is it true for Ann and the other women in this novel? Is
it true for you and your friends?
5. Berg gives us such rich, vivid, eclectic female
characters.What did you make of L.D, Sarah, and Helen? How do these
women, along with Ann and Ruth, interact as a group? Do they seem
like women you would like to spend time with? Why or why not?
6. Ann and Ruth have many discussions about Ruth's extramarital
affairs. Ann conﬁdes that she has thought about
cheating, but that she worries she would get caught. Ruth tells
her, "But after the ﬁrst lie, it gets so much easier.
It's disappointing, in a way, how easy it is" (page 47). Is Ruth
right, does lying get easier as you go along? What do you think Ann
really thinks about her best friend's behavior? Do you think Ann
would every cheat on Joe?
7. Are Ann and Ruth really so different? Ann tells Ruth, "I
mean, you're my best friend. I admire you. But we're very
different" (page 138). Do you believe her? Or do Ruth and Ann have
more in common than they might care to admit? Why are the women
hesitant to admit their similarities? Discuss.
8. Ann and Ruth have very different relationships with their
husbands, Joe and Eric, and their children, Meggie and Michael.
Discuss these relationships and how they help shape the two
9. After Ruth reveals a huge secret about her marriage, Ann
reﬂects, "How can I love a woman I basically disapprove
of?" (page 97) Does Ann really disapprove of Ruth? Why or why not?
Have you ever loved someone you didn't approve of?
10. What did you think of Ruth's decision to go stay with her
brother in Florida, at the end of her life? How did her friends
react? How would you have reacted?
11. This novel is unique in that we know what the ending will be
before we even start our reading. Was there anything about Ruth's
death that surprised you? Were you upset by the end of the novel?