1. What qualities of childhood friendships can’t be duplicated in adult friendships? In what ways are the bonds of childhood stronger? Weaker?
2. If you were reunited with a close childhood friend, would you be friends today? How might your experience be similar to or different from the Four Lindas?
3. Abby, Marley, Caroline, and Janie all face a critical period of discouragement and disappointment, but for different reasons. What do they have in common that allows them to have empathy for their differences?
4. How did Cathy’s death affect the way each of the Four Lindas thought about this season of life?
5. Abby and Janie both grapple with depression of varying degrees. Using their stories, discuss whether you think depression can be avoided or whether it is at times inevitable—perhaps even helpful. What, if anything, could Abby and Janie have done to get through to the other side of their depression with less collateral damage to themselves and the people they love?
6. Caroline has an adventurous spirit, a forgiving and gracious heart, and a can-do attitude in spite of the suffering she has experienced. Do you attribute these qualities to personality, to conscious effort, or to something else? Can anyone develop such a perspective on life, or only certain people?
7. What kept Marley from working on her art while she lived in Seattle? In what ways were these obstacles legitimate? In what ways were they excuses that protected Marley from pain or fear?
8. How could Janie feel jealousy toward Caroline and Victor while still grappling with grief over her husband’s death?
9. “You can’t go home again,” the saying goes. What kinds of risks are Marley, Janie, and Caroline taking by moving back to Clifden after so many years away? What are the potential rewards?
10. Which of the Four Lindas do you most closely identify with? What about her choices do you find surprising? Disappointing? What would you have done similarly or different if you were in