The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries
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- China opens this book with reflections on "bleeding hearts." What are the ways in which hearts bleed in this story? Whose hearts? Why?
- Throughout this series, there have been several "book-bridging plots," plots that continue from one book to another. Ruby's romance with Colin Fowler is one example of a "book-bridging plot." What do we know about Colin up to this point? How did the Ruby/Colin story begin? What happens in this book? What do you think might happen in the next book? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of book-bridging plots?
- One of the most important people in this book is a young woman—Angela Lopez—whom China is never able to meet, but whose character seems to grow and change as the story moves along. How does China learn about Angela? From whom? How does China's view of this young woman (and our view, too) change with each of the informants?
- Brian raises an important question in Chapter 6: to what extent can we involve ourselves in somebody else’s problem. How does Brian resolve this dilemma? How does China resolve it? How essential is this question to the book as a whole?
- One of the subplots of Hearts involves the Scrappers' quilt show and the theft of a quilt. How does this story fit into the other stories that make up the overall plot of this book? Could it have been left out, do you think? What would have happened (or what wouldn’t have happened) if it had been omitted?
- In this book, China is given the chance (or perhaps given a push?) to look into a mystery in her own family: her father's relationship to Laura Danforth and her own relationship to Laura Danforth's son. Are there any parallels between this story and the Angela Lopez/Tim Duffy story?
Your reading group might enjoy refreshments made from some of Susan's recipe collection. There are several recipes in Bleeding Hearts. Also, the February tea party has some recipes that are especially suited to a book that takes place around Valentine's Day.