Sea Glass – Reading Group Guide

1. Consider Honora and Sexton’s relatively brief courtship. Why did they fall in love with each other – or did they even fall in love at all? Do you think they hurried into marriage?

2. The story in Sea Glass is told from the perspective of several different characters. Did you find yourself empathizing with one character more than the others? If so, which character and why?

3. The house into which Honora and Sexton move as the novel opens – a house that seems, by anyone’s standards, too large for just two people – functions almost a character in its own right in Sea Glass. Discuss the various roles the house plays in the story – the importance of its size, its location, etc. If you’ve also read The Pilot’s Wife or Fortune’s Rocks, did you recognize the house from those novels?

4. Discuss the relationship that develops between Alphonse and McDermott. In what ways is their friendship important to each of them?

5. Everyone keeps secrets. Most husbands and wives keep secrets from each other. Do you blame Sexton for his deviousness in securing a down payment for the house? Do you blame him for his failure to be entirely honest with Honora? Were his actions innocent? criminal? somewhere in between?

6. To what extent does it matter that the novel is set at the dawn of the Great Depression? Imagine a similar story unfolding today. In what significant ways might the characters’ lives be different?

7. What are Vivian’s motives for supporting the striking mill workers? In view of her temperament and her wealth, are her motives plausible?

8. At what point in the novel does Honora fall in love with McDermott? At what point does she realize that she’s in love with him?

9. In reviewing Sea Glass, many literary critics remarked on the appropriateness of the novel’s title. What do the words sea glass connote in your mind? In what ways does the phrase function metaphorically as a description of the novel?

10. Allow yourself to play novelist for a moment and imagine Honora’s life in the years beyond the events of the novel. What does the future hold for Honora? How would you want her life to unfold? Chart the future lives of the novel’s other major characters as well.