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Those Pearly Gates

Those Pearly Gates

A Homegrown Novel

  • reading group guide
The heartwarming saga of Imo Lavender and her spirited family continues in a third installment of the beloved Homegrown series.
Life is moving on for Imogene Lavender, and reluctantly she leaves her farm in rural Georgia to follow her new husband, Reverend Peddigrew, into town to live in the parsonage. Her struggle to adjust is not what she expects when she begins feeling the all-too-perfect presence of the Reverend's late wife. The move also leaves Imo's niece Loutishie resentful and stretching her faith to find a way back to her beloved farm. Imo's daughter, Jeanette -- a beautician at the Kuntry Kut 'n' Kurl married to a reverend of her own -- is so afraid of becoming a "church lady" that she secretly enters an erotic bull-riding contest. But a devastating event forces Jeanette to see that beauty is not just skin deep, and when Imo's neighbors suffer a great tragedy, she learns what it really means to be a reverend's wife by helping to restore their faith.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743274470 | 
  • September 2005
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Reading Group Guide

Touchstone Reading Group Guide
Those Pearly Gates
By Julie Cannon
1. Imo has raised two adopted girls, one of whom is actually her niece. In Those Pearly Gates she is remarried to her late best friend's husband. Jeanette and her husband are raising Jeanette's child by another man. Lemuel, as a Reverend, is often placed in the role of Father to an entire congregation. Discuss the ways in which ³family² can be defined, and how growing up in various family structures might affect a child both positively and negatively.
2. When Lemuel starts to show signs of slowing down, Imo's immediate reaction is to push him to retire. Do you think Imo is doing the right thing? Do you think she is overreacting? How much influence do you think her own weariness of being a reverend's wife has on her treatment of Lemuel?
3. Despite their ever-widening family circle, the heart of Julie Cannon's Homegrown series is Imo, Lou, and Jeanette. Compare and contrast these three women and the roles they play in Those Pearly Gates.
4. Early in the novel, Imo wonders if her great love for her garden is idolatry. Later, she describes the human need to be close to God's earth, and the way her farm has provided that connection for her and her family. Have you ever loved a hobby or object so much that it clouded your judgment or mixed up your priorities? Why do you think hobbies are such a popular pastime in America?
5. What does Imo see more

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Julie Cannon
Photo Credit: Libby Willis

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