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Cottage by the Sea

Cottage by the Sea

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • customer reviews
A daughter’s gift of time, a father’s silent wish.

Erin Bryce and her best friend, Sharlene, count the day they start their wedding planning business as a very happy day. So much so that they name their company The Happiest Day to reflect the fulfillment of their long-held dream as well as their clients’ longing for a wedding celebration to match the exhilaration of being in love. As a bonus, the two women utilize their business to help Erin’s son Jordan and his fiancée, Sierra, plan a grand wedding.

But the two friends aren’t prepared for the cloud moving in to cover the sunny, successful start of their business. Erin’s father, who lives in a small coastal Oregon community with his brusque, downright odd second wife, Delores, develops a medical problem that puts him in the hospital. Erin responds by rushing from Southern California to her father’s—and oh, yeah, Delores’s—cottage by the sea.

What greets Erin when she arrives sends her tumbling down a bewildering path to a different kind of happiest day. Her journey tosses her through highs and lows of hurt and healing, betrayal and renewal, wrong assumptions righted, and the brightest future one could ever hope for. All just around the corner, at the cottage by the sea.
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  • Howard Books | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439100905 | 
  • July 2012
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Read an Excerpt


May God grant you many years to live,

For sure he must be knowing.

The earth has angels all too few,

And heaven is overflowing.

Erin caught her breath. “What happened, Delores? Is he okay?”

“Here. He wants to talk to you. Jack? It’s Erin. She wants to talk to you.”


The familiar voice filled Erin’s ear, sounding the same as always—a little gruff, a little sad. Erin released the air in her tightened chest. “Hey, Dad. Hi. How are you? Are you okay?”

“Fine. Fine, fine. How are you?” His... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Cottage by the Sea includes discussion questions and a Q&A with author Robin Jones Gunn. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Discussion Questions

1. A theme throughout the book was the idea of hidden things. What were some things you noticed that were hidden in the beginning of the story and then later revealed? How did those revelations change Erin and the other characters in the story?

2. Looking at each of the key women in this story, what three or four words would you use to describe her life: Erin? Sharlene? Delores? Sierra? Which woman can you most relate to at this point in your journey?

3. How did Erin’s heart toward her father change throughout the book? What do you think led to that growth? Do you think her father’s heart changed? How?

4. Both Erin and Tony received words of healing from their dad. What did he say that impacted them so much? What is the one thing you wish you could hear from your father? Your mother? What is the one thing you would like to say to them? What is the one thing you would like to say to your children? If it is still possible, would you be willing to tell them?

5. Throughout the book Erin’s stress was evidenced by the way she was t see more

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