From the author of The Meryl Streep Movie Club, “a heartwarming, spirit-lifting read just in time for beach season” (Kirkus Reviews), comes a new novel about three women, connected in secret and surprising ways, who are in for a life-changing summer when rumor has it that actor Colin Firth is coming to their Maine town to film a movie.
After losing her job and leaving her beloved husband, journalist Gemma Hendricks is sure that scoring an interview with Colin Firth will save her career and marriage. Yet a heart-tugging local story about women, family ties, love, and loss captures her heart— and changes everything. The story concerns Bea Crane, a floundering twenty-two-year-old who learns in a deathbed confession letter that she was adopted at birth. Bea is in Boothbay Harbor to surreptitiously observe her biological mother, Veronica Russo—something of a legend in town—who Bea might not be ready to meet after all. Veronica, a thirty-eight-year-old diner waitress famous for her “healing” pies, has come home to Maine to face her past. But when she’s hired as an extra on the bustling movie set, she wonders if she is hiding from the truth . . . and perhaps the opportunity of a real-life Mr. Darcy.
These three women will discover more than they ever imagined in this coastal Maine town, buzzing with hopes of Colin Firth. Even the conjecture of his arrival inspires daydreams, amplifies complicated lives, and gives incentive to find their own romantic endings.
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Finding Colin Firth
The letter that would change Bea’s life arrived while she was in the kitchen at Boston’s Crazy Burger, working on four orders of Mt. Vesuvius specials—three patties stacked a foot tall and layered with caramelized onions, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour pickles, and hot sauce. One of her new roommates, Nina, subletting for the summer in the dumpy three-bedroom apartment that Bea now shared with two strangers, poked her head in and said she’d signed for a certified envelope for Bea, and since she was coming to Crazy Burger for lunch, she brought it over.
“Certified? Who’s it from?” Bea asked, taking a fast glance at the parcel as she scooped up the caramelized onions from the pan. Mmm. She’d been frying onions for three hours and still, the smell never got old.
Nina glanced at the upper left-hand corner of the envelope. “Return address says Baker Klein, Twelve State Street, Boston.”
Bea shrugged. “Will you open it up and read the first few lines to me? I need both hands to finish this burger.” Her manager, Barbara, would go nuts if she caught anyone but employees in the kitchen, but Bea was curious to know what the package was about, and Crazy Barbara, as the staff called her behind her back, was in her office, going over inventory.
“Sure,” Nina said. She slit open the envelope, pulled out a letter, and read, “My darling Bea.”
Bea froze, her hand paused on lettuce leaves. “What?” That was how her mother had always addressed the letters she’d written to Bea at college. “Turn it over—who’s it from?”
“It says Mama.”
Bea raised an eyebrow. “Well, since my mother died over a year ago, it’s definitely not from her.”
“It’s handwritten, script,” Nina said, “but it definitely says Mama.”
That made no sense. But Bea’s mother always signed her letters Mama. “You can just drop it on that chair, Nina. I’ll finish this last burger and read it on my break. Thanks for bringing it over.”
Bea was due for that much-needed fifteen-minute break; she’d been on shift at Crazy Burger since eleven and it was now close to two. She loved working at the popular burger joint in Boston’s Back Bay, even if it was supposed to be temporary since she’d graduated from college a year ago and still hadn’t found a teaching job, but her boss was driving her crazy. If Bea took sixteen minutes for her break, Barbara would dock her pay. The woman lived to dock pay. Last week, one of her Mt. Vesuvius burgers was randomly measured and discovered to be only eleven inches high; Bea’s paycheck was cut short five bucks.
In between each layer of burger—three of them—Bea piled on the toppings, added an extra helping of hot sauce, put on the top bun, then measured it. Just shy of a foot, which meant she had to add more lettuce. Finally, she set it on a plate next to the three other Mt. Vesuvius burgers, plunked down a basket of onion rings and a basket of cheese fries, then rang the bell to alert the waitress to pick up. She called Manny, the other cook, in from his break, then took the manila envelope outside into the back alley. She lifted her face to the June sunshine. The breezy, warm day felt wonderful on her skin, in her hair, after she’d been cooped up in the small kitchen all afternoon.
She pulled out the contents of the envelope and her body went completely still. The letter was from her mother; there was no mistaking Cora Crane’s handwriting. It was dated just over a year ago and attached to what looked like forms.
My darling Bea,
If you’re reading this, I’m gone now. A year gone. I’ve kept something from you all your life, something I should have told you the moment you were placed in my arms when you were just a day old. I didn’t give birth to you, Bea. Your father and I adopted you.
I’m not entirely sure why, but I was ashamed that I couldn’t bear a child, something I wanted so desperately, something your father wanted so desperately. When the adoption agent placed you in my arms, you were mine. It was as though I had given birth to you, and I suppose I wanted to believe it myself. So your father—God rest his soul—and I made it so. We never breathed a word to you, never told you. And you grew up believing that you were born to us.
Now that I feel myself going, I can’t bear to take this with me. But I can’t bear to tell you with my final breaths, either, I can’t do that to you. So I’ll wait on this, for both of us. But you should know the truth because it is the truth.
How I wish I’d been brave enough to be honest from that first minute. To tell you how grateful I was, how you were mine before I even met you, from the second the adoption agent called with the news.
I hope you will forgive me, my darling girl. You are my daughter, and I love you with all my heart.
Bea pulled the letter from its heavy paper clip and looked at the forms. Adoption papers, dated twenty-two years ago, from the Helping Hands Adoption Agency in Brunswick, Maine.
Her hand shaking, Bea stuffed the letter and papers back inside the envelope, paced around the alley, then stopped, pulled out the letter, and read it again. The words, in black ink, started blending together. Should have told you. Adoption agent. Sorry. The truth is the truth. If it weren’t for her mother’s handwriting and the good stationery she’d used for all correspondence, Bea might have thought someone was playing a trick on her.
The letter and papers had been sent by a law firm Bea had never heard of; her mother had been long widowed and not well off, and when Cora Crane died last year, there was only the sparsely furnished year-round rental cottage far from the beach on Cape Cod to settle up. Bea had gone through the drawers and closets looking for every last precious memento of her mother, and if this letter had been in that house, she would have found it. Her mother had clearly arranged for Bea to hear the news well after she was gone, after the grief had subsided some.
She tried to imagine her mother, the sweetest person Bea had ever known, propped up in her hospice bed, writing that letter, in anguish, most likely. But another image kept coming: her mother, her father, twenty-two years ago, meeting Bea as a day-old newborn. “Here’s your daughter,” the adoption agent must have said. Or something like that.
Who the hell am I? Bea wondered. She thought of the framed photograph on her bedside table. It was her favorite family picture, taken when she was four, and Bea loved looking at it every night before she fell asleep and every morning when she woke up. Bea, sitting on her father’s shoulders, her mother standing beside them, looking up at Bea and laughing, a tree ablaze with orange and red leaves behind them. Bea had been wearing the Batman cape she insisted on every day for months, and the red hat that her mother had made for her. Cora had saved those old favorites and now Bea kept them in a keepsake box in her closet. Another picture came to mind, one she kept on her desk in her room, of Bea and her mother at Bea’s college graduation last May, just over a year ago, and just a few weeks before her mother had gotten very sick and diagnosed with ovarian cancer, as though she was holding on to watch Bea graduate. Two months later, her mother was gone.
Cora Crane, piano teacher with the patience of a saint, with the dark curls, bright blue eyes, and a smile for everyone, was her mother. Keith Crane, handsome construction worker who sang her an Irish song before bed every single night of her childhood until he’d died when she was nine, was her father. The Cranes had been wonderful, doting parents who’d made Bea feel loved every day of her life. If someone else had given birth to Bea, that didn’t change anything.
But someone else had given birth to her. Who?
A hollow pressure started building in Bea’s chest.
“Bea!” Her boss, Crazy Barbara, came charging outside, glaring at Bea. “What the hell are you doing? It’s still lunch rush! Manny said you went out at least twenty minutes ago.”
“I just got some very strange news,” Bea said, her head spinning. “I need a few minutes.”
“Well, unless someone died, you need to head back to work—now.” Barbara started muttering under her breath. “Taking an extended break in the middle of lunch rush. Who does she think she is?”
“Actually,” Bea said, barely able to think straight. There was no way she’d be able to get through the craze of orders. “I need to go home, Barbara. I just learned some weird news, and—”
“You either get back to work or you’re fired. I’m sick to death of all these excuses—all day long, someone has a headache, someone’s grandmother’s sick. Do your job or I’ll find someone who actually earns their paycheck.”
Bea had been working at Crazy Burger for three years, full-time since last summer, and was the best cook in the kitchen and the fastest. But nothing ever was good enough for Crazy Barbara. “You know what? I quit.” She took off her apron, handed it to a for-once-speechless Barbara, and went back inside to collect her bag from her locker.
She shoved the letter in her bag and walked the half mile home in a daze, tripping over someone’s backpack the minute she walked through the front door of her apartment in the four-story brick building. God, she hated living here this summer with strangers. She headed down the narrow hall, stepping on a pair of boxer-briefs, then unlocked her door and locked it behind her. She dropped her bag on the floor of her room and sat down on her bed, hugging her mother’s old cross-stitched pillow to her chest. She didn’t move for hours.
“Wow, Bea, your entire life has been a lie.”
Slice of pizza en route to her mouth, Bea stared at Tommy Wonkowksi, star running back for the Beardsley College famed football team. A half hour ago, she’d been lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling, grappling with yesterday’s bombshell, when her phone had rung: Tommy, at Poe’s Pizzeria, asking if he’d gotten the time wrong for their date. She’d forced herself up and out the two blocks to the restaurant; she hadn’t eaten since she’d gotten her mother’s letter, hadn’t left her room. But now, as she sat across from Tommy, she wished she’d canceled. With her universe tilted, she needed comforting and familiar, and Tommy Wonkowski was anything but. She wasn’t even sure why she’d said yes to this first date, but it wasn’t every day a hot jock asked Bea out. When they’d met last week at the university’s Writing Center, where she had a part-time tutoring job (Bea had been helping him write a final paper for the freshman English class he was now bothering to take as a senior in summer session), she had been charmed by his good looks, his very differentness from her, and the fact that he towered over her. Bea was five feet ten, and Tommy made her feel kind of dainty for once.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” she said, wishing she’d never told him about the letter. But they’d run out of things to say to each other by the time the waitress had set down their large pizza, and she’d blurted out what was consuming her every waking thought as she’d shaken Parmesan cheese on a slice. Guess what I just found out yesterday? Turns out I was adopted.
But yes, it did sort of feel like her whole life had been a kind of lie. Friends, strangers—Bea herself—marveling over the years at how utterly different she was from both Cora and Keith Crane. They were dark-haired; Bea was blond. Her mother’s eyes were startling blue, and her father’s were hazel, yet Bea’s were driftwood brown. Her parents were average height; she was an Amazon. She wasn’t musical like her mother, nor mathematical like her father. They were both quiet introverts and she could talk and talk and talk. More than once, Bea could remember strangers, friends, looking at her and saying, “Where on earth did you come from?”
And her father responding, “Oh, my father is quite tall, almost six-two,” and pictures of the late grandfather she’d never met reflecting that. Or her mother casually tossing off, “My mother—God rest her soul—had Bea’s brown eyes, even though I have blue like my father’s.” And that was true too. She’d seen pictures of her maternal grandmother, who died when she was very young. Brown eyes, like Bea’s.
It was as though I had given birth to you, and I suppose I wanted to believe it myself. So your father and I made it so.
“Holy crap, you must hate your mother now,” Tommy said around a mouthful of pizza. “I mean, she lied to you your whole life about something so . . . what’s the word?”
“Fundamental,” Bea said through gritted teeth. How dare you suggest I’d ever hate my mother, you oversize blockhead, she wanted to shout. But once again, the image of Cora Crane, dying in that hospice bed, her hand holding Bea’s with the last of her strength, was all she could think of. Her sweet mother. “I don’t hate her at all. I never could, ever.” Though if Bea let herself go there, as she couldn’t help but do in the past twenty-four hours, she’d feel a strange anger that would build in her head and start her heart pounding, then give way to confusion that made her head spin and her heart just plain hurt. A fundamental truth had been withheld. But she couldn’t be mad at her mother; she couldn’t bear that. Her mother was gone. “She explained herself in the letter. And if you knew my mother—”
She glared at him. “Actually, it’s adoptive. But no, she’s my mother. Just my mother. That she adopted me doesn’t change that, Tommy.”
He picked up a second slice and bit into it, gooey mozzarella cheese extending. “It kind of does, Bea. I mean, someone else gave birth to you.”
Bea sat back, defeated. Someone else had given birth to her. Someone she hadn’t known existed a day ago. Someone she couldn’t even conjure up. There was no face, no hair color, no name. Last night, as her eyes were finally drifting closed at three o’clock, she imagined her birth mother to look exactly like herself, just . . . older. But how old? Had her birth mother been a teenager? A very poor older woman who couldn’t feed an additional mouth?
On October 12, twenty-two years ago, someone had given birth to Bea and then had given her up for adoption. Why? What was her story? Who was she?
“Yes, Tommy, someone else gave birth to me,” she told him, her appetite gone again. “But that just makes that person my birth mother.”
“Just? There’s no just about a birth mother.” He chuckled and dug into his third slice of pizza, looking out the window at the busy Boston street as though Bea was proving to be the one who needed tutoring. He turned back to her. “Like, what if you’re married and have a kid, and that kid is dying of some kind of horrible disease, and your blood and your husband’s blood aren’t a match. Your birth mother could save your kid’s life. Man, that’s epic. I mean, think about it.”
But Bea didn’t want to. Her parents were Cora and Keith Crane, la, la, la, hands over her ears. Still, the more she sat there, listening to Tommy Wonkowski tell her how she should feel about all this, the more she realized he was right about a lot of it.
For a week, Bea walked around Boston with the strange truth knocking around in her head. A week ago, she’d been one thing: the daughter of Cora and Keith Crane. End of story. Now she was something else. Adopted. She’d started as someone else’s story. Ended someone’s story, maybe. What was that story? She couldn’t stop thinking about her birth parents. Who they were. Where she came from. What they looked like. And yes, Tommy Wonkowski, what their medical histories were.
She sat at her desk, her favorite novels, books of essays, a memoir about a teacher’s first year, and her laptop making her feel stronger, more like herself. She stared at the manila envelope, lying right next to To Kill a Mockingbird, on which she’d written her senior thesis. She was supposed to be an English teacher by now, middle school or high school, teaching teenagers how to write strong essays, how to think critically about novels, why they should love the English language. But when her mother died last summer, Bea found herself floundering for months. She hadn’t gotten a single interview for a teaching job at any of the private schools she’d applied to, and the publics all wanted her to be enrolled in a master’s program for teacher education, which would mean more loans. A year later, here she was, not teaching, and still living with students. The only thing different was that she wasn’t who she thought she was.
Bea stared at the photo of herself and her mother at her college graduation, willing herself to remember that she was still the same Bea Crane she was last week. Same memories, same mind, same heart, same soul, same dreams.
But she felt different in her bones, in her cells, as though they were buzzing with the electricity of the truth. She had been adopted. Another woman, another man, had brought her into this world.
Why did that have to change anything? Why did it matter so much? Why couldn’t she just accept the truth and move on from it?
Because you’re here alone, for one. Her two good girlfriends had left Boston upon graduation for first jobs. Her best friends from high school were scattered across the country and in Europe; everyone was off on their summer plans, except for Bea, who had nowhere to go, no home.
She felt caged and absolutely free at the same time. So this week she’d stalked around Boston, thinking of her parents with one breath, and this nameless, faceless birth mother with the next. Then she’d come back to her room and stare at the manila envelope until she’d open it and read the adoption papers again, which told her nothing.
Maybe if she did know something, just something to make this tenuous grasp on the words birth mother feel more . . . concrete.
“Damn it,” she said, grabbing the envelope and sliding out the papers. Before she could stop herself, she picked up her cell phone and punched in the telephone number on the first page.
“Helping Hands Adoption Agency, may I help you?”
Bea sucked in a breath and explained the situation and that she just wanted to know if there were names. Most likely there would not be. Bea had done some reading and learned that most adoptions were closed, as hers had been according to the paperwork, but that sometimes birth mothers left their names and contact information in the adoption files. There were also registries birth parents and adoptees could sign up for. Bea would not be signing up for anything.
“Ah. Let me look in your file,” the woman said. “Hold just a minute.”
Bea held her breath. Make this difficult, Bea thought. No names. She wasn’t ready for a name.
Why had she called? When the woman came back, Bea would tell her thank you for checking but she’d changed her mind, she wasn’t ready to know anything about her birth parents.
“Bingo,” the woman said. “Your birth mother called to update the file at her last address change just over a year ago. Her name is Veronica Russo and she lives in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.”
Bea couldn’t breathe.
“Do you need a minute?” the woman was saying. “I’ll give you a minute, no worries.” She did indeed wait a minute, and Bea’s head was close to bursting when the woman said, “Honey, do you have a pen?”
Bea said she did. She picked up the silver Waterman that her mother had given her as a graduation present. She mechanically wrote down the address and telephone number the woman gave her. Home and cell.
“She even included her employment address and phone number,” the woman continued. “The Best Little Diner in Boothbay.”
Veronica Russo. Her birth mother had a name. She was a real person, living and breathing, and she’d updated the file. She’d left every possible piece of contact information.
Her birth mother wanted to be found.
Bea thanked the woman and hung up. She shivered and grabbed her favorite sweater, her father’s old off-white fisherman sweater that her mother had bought him while they were on their honeymoon in Ireland. It was the same sweater her father wore in her favorite picture, with Bea up on his shoulders. She put it on and hugged herself, wishing it smelled like her dad, like Ivory soap and Old Spice and safety, but her dad had been gone since Bea was nine. A long time. For the next eleven years, it was just Bea and her mom, both sets of grandparents long gone, both Cranes only children.
And then Bea lost her mother. She was alone.
She walked to the window seat and stared out at the rain sluicing down. I have a birth mother. Her name is Veronica Russo. She lives in a place called Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
She works in a diner called the Best Little Diner in Boothbay.
Which had a cute ring. A woman who worked in a diner like that couldn’t be so bad, right? She was probably a waitress, one of those friendly types who called her customers “hon.” Or maybe she’d fallen on hard times and was hard-bitten, a shell of a woman who set down eggs over easy and fish and chips with a depressive thud.
Maybe she was a short-order cook. That might explain Bea’s ability to make an incredible hamburger, not that she could cook anything in her kitchenless room. This past year, between her jobs at Crazy Burger and the Writing Center, she had enough money to pay her rent. But now she would come up short for July, and the Writing Center was open only part-time for the summer sessions. Her last lousy paycheck, a half week’s pay from Crazy Burger, wouldn’t help much either.
She had nowhere to be, nowhere to go. But she had this name, and an address.
Bea could take a drive up to Maine, make herself walk into the Best Little Diner, sit at the counter and order a cup of coffee, and look at the name tags on the waitresses’ aprons. She would be able to check out her birth mother from a very close distance. She could do that.
Yes. She would drive up, check out Veronica Russo, and if it seemed right to Bea, she would introduce herself. Not that she had any idea how to go about that. Maybe she’d leave a note in her mailbox, or just call. Then they’d meet somewhere, for a walk or coffee. Bea would find out what she needed to know so she could stop wondering, speculating, driving herself crazy. Then she’d say thank you to Veronica Russo for the information and drive back home to Boston and start looking for a new place to live. And a new job. Maybe she had to let go of her dream of being a teacher. She’d come home once her past had been settled, and she’d figure out what the hell she was supposed to be doing with her life.
Home. As if there were one. This room was nothing more than a big closet. And her mother’s rental cottage on Cape Cod, where she and her mom had moved after her father died, had long ago been sold by the owner. But that little white cottage had been the one place left on earth that had felt like home at Thanksgiving, Christmas, summer breaks, and at times when Bea was stressed or heartbroken or just needed her mama.
Now there were just memories and this old fisherman sweater. And a stranger named Veronica Russo, up in Maine. Waiting a long time to be found by Bea.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Finding Colin Firth includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
One summer. Three women. A quaint seaside town.
And Colin Firth—maybe.
Bea Crane is spending a monotonous post-college summer building Mt. Vesuvius burgers at Boston’s Crazy Burger when she gets a life-changing letter—from her late mother. The letter tells Bea that the parents who left her orphaned weren’t actually her birth parents. After contacting her adoption agency, Bea gets a name and a number for her birth mother. With nothing to lose but her job as a burger maven, Bea packs her bags and heads to Boothbay Harbor to find her birth mother: Veronica Russo.
Rumor has it that Veronica Russo’s pies can solve any problem. During the day, Veronica works as a waitress at The Best Little Diner in Boothbay Harbor, but when the waitressing day is over, Veronica moonlights as a maker of magical pies. But in spite of being able to make her customers’ wishes come true, Veronica can’t stop dreaming about the baby girl that she gave up for adoption as a teenager. But when she receives an unexpected voicemail from her daughter, it seems that Veronica’s life might be on the brink of changing.
After Gemma Hendricks loses her high-powered job as a New York City journalist, it seems that she doesn’t have any ground to stand on against her adoring husband, who wants nothing more than to settle into life as a happy, suburban couple—preferably in the house next to Gemma’s mother-in-law. When Gemma discovers that she’s expecting a baby, she does the only rational thing that she can think of to escape her seemingly inevitable future as a soccer mom—she runs away to her best friend’s Boothbay Harbor inn for plates of pie, long nights of girl talk, and maybe a couple Colin Firth movie marathons.
None of the women realize how much one summer will change their lives. But as Gemma scoops an unexpected newspaper story, Veronica gets cast in a Colin Firth movie shooting in Boothbay, and Bea meets a hot young assistant director, it seems that the summer in Boothbay just might be full of surprises that none of them could have anticipated. And through the wild ride of the summer, each woman learns some valuable lessons—about her dreams, relationships, and the hope that we all hold of someday meeting a Colin Firth.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. In the opening chapter, Bea learns that she’s adopted via a heartfelt letter from her deceased adoptive mother, Cora. What was your response to this revelation—or, as Bea later refers to it, this “lie of omission”—especially considering the fact that it comes in the form of a letter? How did you feel about Bea’s levelheaded reaction—did you expect her to be angrier or feel a greater sense of betrayal? Have you ever had to deliver news or make a confession so groundbreaking or potentially upsetting that you did so in writing rather than face-to-face?
2. Veronica says that her special “elixir pies” are simply regular pies with “some prayers and wishes and hopes baked in” (p. 158), but some locals seem to think that they wield more power than just “the spark of hope in their names” (p. 158). In your opinion, are the pies truly elixirs—adding a magical realism twist to the otherwise realistic novel—or do they simply give customers just enough added hope or confidence to take control of their own destinies in some way?
3. The themes of identity and a sense of belonging are inherent in each of the three heroines’ stories. When Bea finds out that she’s adopted, Tommy insists: “Your entire life has been a lie” (p. 7), but Bea disagrees. What are the building blocks of each woman’s identity, if not her biological makeup, her familial lineage? From where do you derive your own sense of self?
4. Veronica still seems to be battling her reputation as the “high school slut” who got knocked up at sixteen, thanks to snide remarks from the seemingly snobby Penelope Von Blun and from her own sense of shame at how her family and friends reacted to the news back when she was a teenager. Can you relate to Veronica’s inability to shake her old reputation, to move on from a formative event that—while far in the past— still affects her in the present?
5. When Gemma first arrives at the Three Captains’ Inn, she finds herself relating to Bridget Jones more than she’d like to admit while viewing the inaugural film of the inn’s Colin Firth movie month. Is there a particular film or cinematic heroine whom you related to, or have related to in the past? If so, did seeing a version of your own struggles play out on screen help you deal with them in any way?
6. Mona, Alex’s mother, could easily be a fundamentally unsympathetic character given the extent to which she intervenes in Gemma and Alex’s lives—think of the scene in which she calls Gemma, saying accusatorily, “Think of the baby if your own husband doesn’t matter to you!” (p. 254). Can you understand where she’s coming from, or do you see her as a villain of sorts?
7. Were you surprised to discover who Beth, the woman who’d ordered the Cast-Out Pie for “someone else who has to get someone out of his goddamned head” (p. 273), really was? What does this tell you about the real impact that Veronica’s pregnancy had—and continues to have—on Bea’s birth father’s life?
8. The importance of female relationships—whether they’re friendships or mother-daughter bonds—is a theme that resonates strongly throughout this novel. In light of this, what do you think of Veronica’s grandmother’s words of wisdom, which stress putting oneself first, always: “People will come and go from your life for all kinds of acceptable and crappy reasons, so you’ve got to be your own best friend, know who you are, and never let anyone tell you you’re something you know you’re not” (p. 62). Which of the three heroines in this novel, if any, best follows this advice?
9. As Gemma tries to make peace with her impending motherhood, she reflects: “Motherhood wasn’t about who gave birth to you, who adopted you, who raised you. It was about love, commitment, responsibility. It was about being there. About wanting to be there” (p. 127). What do you think about this definition of motherhood? How does it apply to both Bea’s story and Gemma’s?
10. What do you think of Alex’s ultimate offer at the end? What do you see as his turning point, if he has one?
11. At the novel’s end, all three heroines decide to begin the next chapter in their lives in Boothbay Harbor, the charming coastal Maine town that feels like a central character in and of itself. Gemma says of the town: “Boothbay Harbor had always been a saving grace, a harbor in itself . . . She’d always been happy in Boothbay, the vibrant coastal town a constant ray of sunshine. She had old friends here, wonderful memories. And she loved the old wooden piers and boats in the bay, the cobblestone and brick streets lined with one-of-akind shops and every imaginable cuisine” (p. 291). Is there a town, city, region, or any other landmark (perhaps a favorite hiking trail or café) that you consider a “harbor”—a place to which you attribute feelings of security and happiness, a place that holds treasured memories?
12. When Veronica tells Nick DeMarco that the delicious pie he’s tasted is just a “plain old Happiness Pie,” Nick responds: “Nothing old or plain about happiness” (p. 207). What do you think about this statement? Do we undervalue the beauty of general contentedness? What defines happiness in the lives of Gemma, Bea, and Veronica?
13. Each heroine ultimately finds her happy ending in Boothbay Harbor, but unlike in a Colin Firth romantic comedy, these women’s happy endings don’t necessarily involve men—they find fulfillment in other ways: familial bonds, career moves, a sense of belonging. Which woman’s trajectory did you find the most relatable and why? The most enjoyable?
Enhance Your Book Club
Take a cooking or baking class together! Veronica teaches a piemaking class to locals in Boothbay Harbor. Look up local cooking classes in your region and sign up with your book club members!
Cast the film! If this novel were adapted into a movie (a Colin Firth movie, perhaps?), who would play which character?
Host a Colin Firth movie night! Following book club, screen your favorite Colin Firth film!
Bake your own elixir pie to serve to your book club members! What kind of hopes, wishes, or sentiments would you bake into your own version of Veronica’s special elixir pies?
Make it a double feature! Read Finding Colin Firth in tandem with Mia March’s hit debut novel, The Meryl Streep Movie Club! This novel, set in the same charming seaside town, features several characters you’ll recognize from Finding Colin Firth.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Told by alternating narrators, March's book touches on many facets of family, both lost and found, with a little romance for interest. This was a quick, light read and while none of the characters really popped for me individually, together, they made a good story.The path of the three main characters all lead to Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Bea is a young woman searching for answers after a belated deathbed confession. Veronica has come home to Boothbay after years of living across the country. And Gemma seems to be both hiding and searching for meaning after downsizing leaves her without a job. Colin Firth is set to star in a movie filming in this Maine town and everyone wants to be a part of that magic.
Great summer read that captures the despair, hope and dreams that are a part of all our lives. We may not have the same problems, but we can certainly relate to Bea, Veronica and Gemma, the main characters in this novel. Author Mia March tells the stories of these three women, stories that all intersect in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. No wonder the producers of Colin Firth's movie chose the town for a movie setting. Oh, wait, that was just part of the story line. Lovely story and a very enjoyable read.
Colin Firth...Mr. Darcy...what more is there to say if you’re a female? (Long pause so you may capture the swoon-worthy image in your mind...) Colin may not have a large part in this novel, but he’s that pedestal that women seem to seek no matter what age they are. This tale focuses on three unforgettable women: Bea Crane is handed a letter one year after her mother has passed that tells her she’s adopted. Wham-o! Nothing like finding out news like that when you’re all grown up working at Boston’s Crazy Burger. Emotional turmoil sets in, but Bea does find out the information she needs and heads to Maine to face the mother who gave her up many years ago. Veronica Russo got pregnant too early in life and the small Maine town she lived in STILL won’t let the past go. Even though she’s moved back to start over again, Veronica still has to hear whispers (just like every small town that is unable to let go of gossip to save their lives). Veronica is loved for her amazing elixir pies that have awesome names, like Amore, Hope, Spirit and even Cast-Off. These pies are ‘magical’ to some. While making/eating the pie all you have to do is think about what you desire, love, or don’t want anymore and your wishes can come true. (Much like the movie, Chocolat. Ah, Johnny Depp - another long pause...) Moving on... Gemma Hendricks seemingly has it all; a loving husband who wants nothing more than to move to the burbs to be near his mother so Gemma can live the stay-at-home mom, 2 kids, 2 cars in the garage, white picket fence, American family life. Trouble is, Gemma is a reporter and doesn’t want that life. She gets so angry about her husband’s constant whining that she heads up to Maine to visit a friend of hers. Of course, it’s not just the whining, she’s also pregnant and has no idea what to do next. In this small town of Boothbay Harbor Gemma finds a new outlook on life by working on a news story about the girls staying at Hope House, a home for pregnant teens. Bea and Veronica meet and have to deal with questions from the past. And a fantastic cop named Nick is in the mix who may just be the ‘catch’ that Veronica can nab with one of her Amore pies. Colin Firth is coming to film a movie in Boothbay, so the people are all a-buzz about his visit. But these three women hold your heart during this tale with so much wit, humor and intelligence that Colin is never really thought about (well...barely thought about. Okay, I’m lying.) I do have a negative. There are no recipes. I want those elixir pies and I expect this author to send me the formulas ASAP! (Or just send me Colin Firth and we’ll call it even). Quill says: Location is stunning; characters are unforgettable; plot is woven perfectly. Bravo!
We ALL carry doubts and fears. The question is, how do you face yours? In this book, ‘Finding Colin Firth,’ you’ll find that past and present doubts and fears come crashing together. I never give spoilers-you’ll have to read the book…but, I will tell you that Mia March, is BRILLIANT!! This is to me, the top ranking book that I’ve read thus far, this year. My mind and heart just wouldn’t allow me to stop reading this story once I started. Every single character I could see and feel clearly. Hats off to Mia’s editor, publisher, friends…anyone that supported her through writing this book. Why? Cause it flowed so seamlessly, that all the scenes could be played out in the mind’s eye like a film. It was brought to life!…from the town drunk, to the teens at Hope Home, to ‘lil Leigh wanting to make a pie-so that she can feel closer to her momma…even baby Allie’s red face from teething. Mia brings out all of these characters and…they’re not even the main ones!! I could NOT find any errors either-for those where that matters-and I always look. BRILLIANT Mia just plain BRILLIANT!! I laid this book down and walked away feeling happy, satisfied, and victorious….AND hungry for pie! I love the fact that these characters go through everyday experiences-all life changing in some way and still rise above. It’s that whole, when life gives you lemons-you make lemonade mentality. If you’re looking for just a really great book to read, that has a fantastic over all story…YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOOK ANY FURTHER. There were a few tears that I cried, but most of all..I was just plain ole happy! I do wonder though Mia…why Pecan Pie didn’t make into the mix? I wonder which elixir pie would it have been. This is truly a new favorite of mine…well written with developed characters, no errors-that I saw, good feelings-victory over doubts…..AND PIE!! You just can’t get any sweeter than that.
In Finding Colin Firth by Mia March, three women are struggling to find their way in life and are each drawn for their own reasons to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in this emotionally charged story. Bea Crane is still mourning a year after the death of her beloved mother when she receives a mysterious letter. Inside is her mother's deathbed confession admitting that Bea is actually adopted and enclosed is a copy of the agreement with the adoption agency. She is absolutely shocked and unsure what to do, where to go, or who she really is for that matter. Bea tracks down her birth mother's location and decides to go to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to possibly confront her and get the answers she desperately needs. Her resolve fades when she arrives in town, though, as she anonymously sees Veronica Russo for the first time. She's beautiful and confident while waiting on customers at the diner but Bea doesn't know if Veronica will be willing to relive past events while explaining her decisions to her. After taking a tour of Hope Home, where she was born, Bea meets Gemma Hendricks, a journalist visiting friends and working on a story for the local paper about the fiftieth anniversary of the Home. Gemma helps Bea out with getting an interview and then a job at her friend's inn where Bea also gets room and board. As things start to fall in place, she finally reaches out to Veronica and they meet for the first time in twenty-two years. It's up to Bea to decide from there whether she will try to build a relationship with her birth mother and if she should stick around in the coastal town that is winning her over. Life has admittedly been rather tough for Veronica Russo but she doesn't dwell on it. She became pregnant at sixteen only to have her boyfriend deny the child was his and to have her parents send her to Hope Home, a local place for pregnant teens, immediately. They wanted nothing to do with her and still don't for that matter, but she's made a life for herself despite their cold attitude. She gave birth to a baby girl who she gave up for adoption and then began traveling, working at diners along the southern US. She decided to finally come back to Maine and face her past, to see if she could get rid of the embarrassment and shame of what she went through as a teenager. Since being back, she's been making a name for herself locally with the delicious pies she bakes and sells to friends and businesses. The locals think they're magic, but Veronica knows it's the thoughts and wishes that go into the pies as she makes them that makes each one truly special. She bakes one of these pies on a lonely evening and swears she can feel her baby girl in her arms again, and then amazingly Bea call her shortly afterward to set up a meeting. Veronica has no idea what to expect or if Bea will want to form a relationship with her. She hopes they can keep in touch but knows she has to leave that decision to Bea. Gemma Hendricks feels stuck in her life at the moment. She loves living in Manhattan and can't imagine moving to the suburbs near her in-laws as her husband wants them to do. Unfortunately she just lost her job as a journalist for the local paper. To further complicate matters, she finds out she's pregnant. Gemma doesn't dare tell her husband yet or he'll push even harder to move them to Dobbs Ferry so she can become a stay-at-home mom, and she's not ready for that fight yet. She needs to come to terms with the fact that she's pregnant first. She's already planned on heading up to visit friends in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, so she decides to keep the news to herself for now. While visiting, she gets caught up in the local hysteria over Colin Firth visiting the set of his movie being filmed in town. Gemma thinks if she can get an interview with him, maybe it will give her career the boost it needs. Instead she ends up working on a story about the fiftieth anniversary of Hope Home and interviews past and current residents. During her research she meets Bea Crane and immediately wants to help her. The more she uncovers about the women who have stayed at the Home, she becomes humbled by their courage and ability to make such tough choices. She finds herself in a similar flux, wanting to be a working mom, to find a balance between work and family, but her husband is adamant that he wants them near his parents and for her to stay at home. Gemma is worried they won't be able to come to an agreement on their future and hopes her time in Boothbay Harbor will help her find clarity. This is a very interesting, intricate story by Mia March, set in an idyllic coastal town. The lives of Bea, Veronica and Gemma weave together perfectly to create deeper layers to the plot. Each woman has her own personal struggle and we get to see how they come to terms with their situations while creating a network of supportive, loving friends. All the characters, including secondary, were very well defined and relateable, which made this a joy to read. I would definitely recommend this story if you enjoy multi-layered, intensely emotional stories with a hint of romance thrown in.
Filled with so much warmth and hope! 4.5 Stars! I have to admit, I initially wanted to read this book because of the title alone. The title makes me think of many nights spent watching the movies of one of my favorite actors. Finding Colin Firth: A Novel turned out to be so much more than what the title suggests. The quaint tourist town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine is all abuzz! Colin Firth is coming to shoot some scenes for a movie. How very exciting! Boothbay Harbor is also where the lives of three women entwine and change forever. With alternating POV in each chapter, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I got wrapped up in the stories of Bea, Veronica, and Gemma. I sympathized and cared about them so much that I kept hoping for the best for each of them as I was reading along. Mia March has created a story full of warmth and hope. It's about unexpected pregnancy, adoption, facing and confronting demons, and accepting what is truth. This story has so many heart-tugging moments that will require tissues. It even has a tad of romance. Although, having previously watched all the movies mentioned in this book provided a much more enriching reading experience for me, it's not necessary to have seen any of the movies beforehand to enjoy this book. I love how Mia March cleverly weaves the movie titles in such an enticing way that if you haven't seen the movies, you'll want to by the end for sure. So, for those who want to have a little fun and have their own movie marathons before, during, or after reading this book, here are the Colin Firth movies mentioned in no particular order: Pride and Prejudice BBC miniseries Bridget Jones's Diary Love Actually Then She Found Me A Single Man Girl with a Pearl Earring Mamma Mia! The King's Speech This is my first time reading anything from Mia March. I found her writing to be witty and poignant. I'm looking forward to reading more from her. I'm sure this book will make a wonderful book club selection. There could be much lively discussion about not only what these women go through, but also about pies and Colin Firth! *** A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest review ***