Olivia Jones lives vicariously through the old photographs she restores. She and her daughter Tess have no one, so they cling to the fantasy that a big, happy family is out there somewhere. When Natalie hires Olivia to help with her memoir, a summer at Natalie's beautiful vineyard by the sea seems the perfect opportunity to live out that fantasy.
But all is not as it seems at the vineyard in Rhode Island -- Natalie is not quite the mothering type. Simon Burke, who runs the vineyard's day-to-day operation, sees in Olivia and Tess an unwelcome reminder of the wife and daughter he tragically lost.
The Vineyard is a fascinating story of two women, a generation apart, each of whose dream becomes bound with the other.
Reading Group Guide
1.) Natalie's story is interwoven throughout the novel in the form of recollections -- memories that later come into question when her children read her story. Discuss the power of personal memories; how can they vary so drastically from one family member to another? Can you always trust your memories -- or do we all revise and alter our memories one way or another?
2.) Which qualities make Olivia a good person to help Natalie write her memoirs? Her natural curiosity? Her fascination with the intricacies of family dynamics? Does the absence of Olivia's own family history help or hinder this process?
3.) At first, Tess and Simon find themselves at odds with one another. Is this because Tess reminds Simon of the daughter he lost? Does Tess sense and subsequently feel threatened by the growing attraction between Olivia and Simon? Are Tess and Simon more alike then different -- outsiders in a world filled with people who do not understand their pain?
4.) How is Olivia affected by her realization that the Seebrings aren't the perfect family she envisioned? Is Olivia disappointed by the choices Natalie made to save the vineyard? How practical were Olivia's expectations when she arrived at the vineyard? Is she realistic when she hopes that the Seebrings might become a pseudo-family?
5.) Natalie and Olivia discuss the legitimacy of the expression "blood is thicker than water." (ms. p. 27 see more