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Excerpted from The Big Beautiful by Pamela Duncan Copyright © 2007 by Pamela Duncan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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1. Why do you think this novel is entitled The Big Beautiful? What do you think “the big beautiful” refers to?
2. Do you think one can be too old for romance? If you were Doris’s age, with her health, would you be open to a new courtship? Is it her self-consciousness about her illness or something else that holds her back?
3. Each month starts with a literary quote about love. How do the quotes connect to what happens in the section of the story that follows?
4. There are three generations in this novel. Are they different in how they perceive love? What are the similarities that tie the many different characters together?
5. Evelyn sums up the novel as being about late bloomers and second chances. How is this theme reflected in the characters, and their relationships with each other and their town? In the landscape of their town?
6. Cassandra and May both say they wouldn’t give anything to go back in time. Cassandra is happy she is past Annie Laurie’s age and May is happy she is past Cassandra’s age. Would you go back to a certain age if you could? If so, what age and why?
7. What role do you think the ocean plays in relation to the characters? Is it seen as friend or foe? Doris hates it. The rest of the O’Neal family would never want to be away from it. Do you think the ocean is a strong character in this novel?
8. Annie Laurie twice almost drowned in the ocean, first as a little girl and then on the boat with Dennis and Hector. What did she learn from those two experiences? What does the ocean represent to her?
9. Throughout the novel Cassandra references romance novels and movies. Do you think Cassandra is too wrapped up in the ideal? Does this help her to see what she wants? Are men as susceptible to the allure of romance as women?
10. Cassandra gets close with Annie Laurie. Do you think Cassandra was responsible in pursuing this friendship knowing she was leaving in a few months? Do you think Doris was right in lecturing Cassandra about her relationship?
11. Why do you think Cassandra is so drawn to Hector? Why does she keep dating Dennis? Did she rush too quickly from one man to another? Would she have been better off taking more time for herself?
12. All of the characters want love. And they all run from it. Cassandra avoids Hector. Annie Laurie avoids Jim. Evelyn avoids her family. Why do you think this is?
13. Would you rather have love or romance? Are the two separate as May says? Can romance have different definitions for different people, just as love does?
14. Why do you think Dennis changes his life? Does he do it for Cassandra or for himself? Do you think it is good to change for love? How do Dennis and Cassandra act as catalysts in each other’s lives?
15. Do you think Cassandra is Hector’s hero or Hector is Cassandra’s hero? If so, what are they saving each other from? Is it possible to be your own hero, or do you need relationships?
16. It is said that geographical cures don’t really work because no matter where you go, there you are. How does this theory play out in Cassandra’s story?
17. What does the story say about different definitions of motherhood? Of family?
Posted November 25, 2009
Pamela Duncan has magnificently written a compelling tale of life, love and relationships. A sequel to "Moon Women", this novel chronicles fortyish Cassandra Moon's journey toward understanding herself and ultimately discovering her place in the world. The story begins on Cassandra's wedding day, where in a panic she flees in the wedding limousine, leaving her befuddled groom at the altar. She had suddenly realized that she was marrying for the wrong reasons. Middle-aged and overweight, she had been convinced that she was lucky someone was willing to marry her at all. Desperately needing a place to gather her thoughts, she heads toward the North Carolina beach town of Salter Path. It is here among the welcoming townspeople that she has a chance to truly find herself.
Ms. Duncan is an extraordinary storyteller who completely captivated me in the opening pages and never let go. Her brilliantly-crafted cast of unique, intriguing characters provided many laugh-out-loud moments. As I read, I thoroughly enjoyed how eloquently she captured all the nuance and charm of the South. I really loved this wonderfully entertaining book and I highly recommend it!
Posted June 24, 2008
I wanted to love this book, but just couldn't quite get there. The writer completely nails the rythms of the language and family relationships for that part of country. And yet...the main character was so oddly drawn that I just couldn't completely accept her. She's supposed to be this 42 year old woman yet she seemed to have the attitude and behaviors of someone much younger, like in their early twenties. I kept wanting to say to her 'are you, like, mentally challenged or something?' It was really odd. In other words, how can someone be that innocent at that age unless she had been locked in a closet for 20+ years? Still, if you love reading books for the beauty of language, then this one will work, but if you have any emotional maturity at all you will wonder at the main character.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
As her family looks on and her father A.J. encourages her to take a dump or get off the pot, Cassandra Moon thinks of Pride and Prejudice and her dad¿s last second ¿advice¿. Dennis waits at the altar to exchange vows, but instead Cassandra flees from the rural Western North Carolina church and steals his limo that he was going to use to take them to Asheville for their honeymoon. --- Cassandra drives across the Tarheel state to the ocean where she stops at Salter Path for no reason except that she is drunk, half stuck in the sun roof, and thinks the next landmass is Portugal and she has no passport. There the overweight fortyish Cassandra muses that there must be more to life than she has lived as she wants her own Darcy to love and to be loved. Apparently the townsfolk knew her mother Marvelle so they adopt Cassandra while Hector the sea captain keeps giving her that Darcy look of desire. --- Though the rural Carolina dialogue takes some getting used to, the adjustment is worth the time as this sequel to the MOON WOMEN is a well written character study of a person seeking their niche in life. Cassandra is an interesting protagonist but in many ways the geo-eccentric townsfolk of Salter Path steal the show with home grown wisdom that they try to pass on to the confused visitor. Regional contemporary fiction readers will enjoy Cassandra¿s odyssey. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2012
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