- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
"In this remarkable first novel, Diane Hammond brilliantly captures the subtle nuances of everyday life in a small Oregon town and the friendship between two extraordinary women. Funny, heartbreaking and wise."
-Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes
In the small coastal town of Hubbard, Oregon, your man may let you down, your boss may let you down, life may let you down . . . but your best friend never will.
Welcome to Hubbard, where Petie Coolbaugh and Rose Bundy have been best friends since childhood. Now in their early thirties, both are grappling to come to terms with their age and station in life. As they struggle to make ends meet and provide for their children and the good-hearted but unreliable men in their lives, they take jobs cooking for a brand-new upscale restaurant, Souperior's Cafe, starting from scratch every morning to produce gallons of fresh soup from local recipes. The proprietors of the cafe, Nadine and Gordon, are fraternal twins from Los Angeles with adjustments of their own to make, but Rose’s warmth and the quality of the women’s soups quickly make them indispensable despite Petie’s abrupt manner and prickly ways.
The strains of daily life are never far, however, and the past takes its toll on the women. Petie’s childhood as the daughter of the town drunk—a subject she won't talk about—keeps her at a distance from even her best friend, until an unexpected romance threatens to crack her tough exterior. And despite Rose's loving personality, the only man in her life is a loner fisherman who spends only a few months of the year in town.
In this fishing village, friends are for life and love comes in the most unexpected ways. As the novel draws together lovers, husbands, employers, friends, and family, each woman finds possibilities for love and even grace that she had never imagined.
1. Much of the action in Going to Bend happens over food preparation. What does soup represent in the lives of Petie and Rose? How is that different than its significance for Nadine and Gordon?
2. Kitchens are also centers for discussion, revelations, and turning points. What key scenes take place in kitchens?
3. As a young man, Schiff meets a redheaded girl at a carnival and, early in the book, vividly remembers the few hours they spent together. Later, he will associate her with Petie. Why? What characteristics and quirks do these characters hold in common—and why does Schiff find them appealing?
4. When Petie is young, she and Paula seek refuge in a gift shop from Old Man’s drinking. When a fragile teacup is broken, the shopkeeper gives it and a matching saucer to Petie. What is the significance of these objects to Petie?
5. Old Man Tyler and Petie live in a camp trailer in the woods behind Hubbard. Later, Jim Christie discovers the trailer and uses it for his own purposes. What role does the trailer play in Petie’s past and in later causing a disastrous rift between her and Rose?
6. Going to Bend explores the different kinds of love that can exist between husbands and wives, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and friends. How did those different kinds of love manifest themselves between the characters in Going to Bend?
7. Rose and Gordon become good friends. Why—what do they have in common?
8. In some sense, Going to Bend is a story about the effects of isolation—geographical isolation, psychic isolation, and isolation based on shame and secrecy. What are some examples of isolation and its effect on the characters and on their unfolding stories?
9. In the course of the book there is an unfolding tension between Jim Christie and Carissa that will ultimately have tragic results. What’s really going on between these two characters?
10. Eula Coolbaugh is one of the most important people in Petie’s life. Does Eula’s love for Petie differ from Paula Tyler’s? If so, how?
11. In a childhood visit to Camp Twelve, Petie is badly burned in a fire, and Old Man applies a poultice of ashes. What do these ashes signify, both then and at the book’s end? What role do they play in helping Petie to resolve grief?
12. 12. Eula Coolbaugh may be Going to Bend’s only truly wise character. What wisdom does she impart to Petie that has a lasting effect on her life and decisions? Why?
13. The title Going to Bend has both a metaphorical and literal meaning. What are they, and how do they relate to the book’s main characters?
14. At several key moments in Petie’s life, she buries objects beneath a tree. What are the objects, what do they represent, and why does she bury them?
15. Petie and Schiff, both of whom are married, carry on a clandestine relationship through much of the book. What’s missing in their respective marriages, and how does this play a role in their unfolding relationship?
16. Jim Christie is an inarticulate man with a severely limited ability to communicate his feelings. How does Rose deal with this throughout the book, and what role does it play in the book’s climactic outcome?
17. Work creates tensions throughout the book, and everyone except for Paula Tyler and Eula Coolbaugh has a job. How do the characters regard their respective jobs at the start of the book? At the end? How do they suit each character?
18. Were any of the characters in Going to Bend reminiscent of people you’ve known in your own lives? If so, what were the resemblances?
19. Were there universal truths about people and relationships that were revealed in Going to Bend? If so, what were they, and how might they relate to, say, white-collar people living and working in an urban environment?
20. What do you think will happen to Petie and Rose after the book’s end? What would you like to see happen?
Posted August 22, 2013
Posted October 21, 2004
What a wonderful book. The characters are well developed - you find yourself caring about them and wanting to know what will become of them. The story lines are heartwarming. You'll laugh and cry and walk away thinking it was time well spent.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2004
Posted February 17, 2004
THIS IS A GREAT STORY OF GRITTY PEOPLE LIVING A DIFFICULT LIFE AND HAVING THE COURAGE TO CONTINUE AND TO MAKE CHANGES. EASY READ WITH CHARACTERS THAT GROW AND CHANGE AND MAKE THE READER THINK. ENJOYABLE.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2004
Conceived with heart, mind, and pen, Diane Hammond's debut novel takes place in small town Hubbard, Oregon. It is '...one of the oldest no-account towns on the coast of Oregon. Men there fished commercially or helped others deep-sea fish for sport.....They lived hard, bore scars, coveted danger and died either young and violently or unnecessarily old. The women worked, or not. The children belonged to them.' The story focuses on two women; they're best friends, have been for as long as they can remember. Both are now in their thirties. Rose is a Mother Earth type, warm, nurturing. Petie is 'small and hard and tight and flammable, like the wick of a candle.' In order to augment their almost nonexistent incomes the two begin working together as soup cooks in a newly opened restaurant, Superior's Café. It's a strain rising at dawn's first light to make soup from scratch, but their efforts are well received. Nadine and Gordon are the restaurant's owners. They're fraternal twins and an unlikely pair to make their home in Hubbard, but they fled stress city, L.A., for a quieter place so Gordon, who is terminally ill, might find some peace. As the lives of Rose and Petie unfold we meet a host of characters including Jim Christie, a commercial fisherman; Ryan, the youngest of Petie's boys who is quiet and a bit of a bookworm. His father has a harsh description of him, while Petie concedes that he's a bit 'odd' - at least for Hubbard, Oregon. Life is not easy for any of these folks yet we are reminded through them that there is happiness to be found in the most unexpected places and even in inauspicious events. We are also reminded of the strengths of an enduring friendship - '...your mom may let you down, your boss may let you down, life may let you down...but your best friend never will.' With her first novel Diane Hammond shows herself to be a writer of note. She has served as a spokesperson for the Oregon Coast Aquarium and, yes, she has lived in Bend, Oregon.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2004
This first novel by Diane Hammond is a wonderful book full of characters that end up feeling like they are close personal friends. The story is about two women who share a rare and true friendship, understanding and accepting each other in spite of the fact that they are as different as two individuals can be. The author exhibits sensitivity and understanding when dealing with the difficulties that life throws at these two friends. The writing style is charmingly unique, fun, and heartfelt and her descriptions of events, people, and places easily draw you into the life of a small Oregon Coastal town. I will be anxious to read her next book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 2, 2009
No text was provided for this review.