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The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

Reading Group Guides: Bloodroot (#10)


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  1. In this book, China goes to Jordan's Crossing, the plantation where her mother grew up. What are her feelings about this place? Why? What does it represent in China's life? Does her relationship to this place change during the course of the novel? Did you enjoy the change of pace from Pecan Springs? Why or why not?

  2. China's relationship with her mother has undergone some important changes over the course of the series. Can someone in your group summarize those changes? Is a knowledge of this background important for an understanding of what happens in this book? Why or why not? How do you feel about a mystery series in which the books seem to have a definite order?

  3. Several mysteries are woven together in this complex plot. What are they? How are they related to one another?

  4. In this book, China renews her childhood friendship with Darlene. What special kinds of knowledge does Darlene bring to the solution of the mystery that involves Dawn? Do you think China have figured things out without her? What does that suggest to you?

  5. Judith is connected with a chapter of the Southern past that is unfortunately obscured by the later cataclysm of the Civil War. What is that? What does this add to the overall story?

  6. Bloodroot is a native American herb that is full of mystery, as the headnote to Chapter One suggests. How does the herb figure in the book?

  7. This book has many supernatural or paranormal elements. What are some of these? How are they related to the book's several plots? To its themes? To the characterizations? Did you enjoy this aspect of the book?

Your reading group might enjoy refreshments made from some of Susan's recipe collection. You can check out the recipes at the back of most of the books, at Thyme for Tea or in one of the monthly Tea Parties. Or you can try this recipe, which is related to the book's theme or signature herb:

Queenie's Rosemary Biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, chopped very fine
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Cut the butter into pea-sized lumps in the flour mixture. Add rosemary and milk and mix with a fork to form a soft dough. (Do not overmix.) Roll out dough 1/2-inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut into circles with a biscuit cutter and place close together on a greased and floured baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 12.