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The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries

Reading Group Guides: Lavender Lies (#8)


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  1. In this series, Susan Albert has created a "story arc" (a term often used by film makers to describe the overall story) that carries China's life story forward from book to book. Lavender Lies represents the ending point of one story line and the beginning of another. What stories are these?

  2. China's wedding is central to this book. What role does lavender play in the preparations and in the event? Were you suprised to learn that lavender also has a more sinister meaning?

  3. In Chapter 9, China makes one of her rare trips to Bobby Rae's House of Beauty. The scene is a mix of comic and serious elements. What does China learn in this trip to the beauty parlor that takes her closer to the book's central mystery?

  4. Some minor characters play major roles in this book. Hark Harkness, for instance, and various members of the City Council. Choose a favorite minor character and describe what you find interesting about this person.

  5. Love, in its various healthy and toxic aspects, is a central theme of this book. Describe some of the ways people are affected by "love" (or what they think of as love) in Lavender Lies.

  6. In the end, China and McQuaid are married at last. Are you glad, or sad? Why?

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:

Lavender Muffins
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ½ stick of butter
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet to the dry, stirring only until the dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Fill greased muffin tin (or paper muffin cups). Bake about 20 minutes, until golden. Makes 1 dozen.