QUESTIONS AND THEME IDEAS
With as always a huge thank you to the amazing readers who helped brainstorm these ideas.
Roses and jasmine. Decorate with roses and jasmine (cut flowers, napkins, etc.). You could even use rose and jasmine scents, or everyone could go home with their own little bottle of rosewater, if the host wanted to offer a party favor. Chocolate roses might be cute, but it can be hard to find these made from good quality chocolate, and you know what I think about quality chocolate! A good baker (home or local) might be able to do some white chocolate roses on a cake or something like that.
Provence. Use Provençal motifs (Google Provençal patterns if you don’t see what these are right off the bat). Or dried lavender always evokes Provence, even though none appears in The Chocolate Rose.
Yoga pants. Make it a yoga pants night! (And can you explain why?)
Food to serve. Dal, mini toasts with scrambled eggs on them, or make it pancake night. Something rose-flavored could be fun (crystallized rose petals on ice cream, or a rose syrup—flower flavors can take some getting used to, as some people will always feel as if they are “eating perfume”, so you would probably want to use a light hand with it; it’s a fun flavor to explore, though). Chocolate, of course! Or go with baguettes and Provençal cooking.
Drinks. Wine. It’s a French theme. I don’t have to force you on this one, do I?
These are collected from readers, so not only things that I think are interesting from an author’s point of view, but things that readers said they would like to discuss.
1. How does the author use the Beauty and the Beast theme? Who can pull out the most elements, some subtle, some major?
2. Jolie struggles with a need to create a space for herself, in response to the demands made on her, and initially prefers to be alone rather than have the “weight” of another person on her life. Do you think this struggle to protect your own dreams/desires/space/sense of self from the demands of others is a common issue for women? How do you resolve it?
3. Jolie is torn between two demands (family and lover) and two demanding men, and she is the one who commutes twelve hours a week. How would you handle this situation? Have you ever dealt with a similar demands from family?
4. For those in longer relationships, what do you think of Lea’s advice to Jolie about keeping something of her and not giving all of herself? Have you struggled with this in your relationships?
5. Is Gabriel more prince or beast? Which side of him dominates, or are they balanced? What examples would you give of actions from each side of him? Do you think everyone needs a bit of inner beast?
6. What do you think of the way Gabriel handles Jolie’s father? How would you have reacted in Jolie’s shoes?
7. Jolie and Gabriel are attracted to each other immediately and then have to work on developing a relationship from that point. Do you believe more in an attraction that is immediate or one that slowly develops? If you’re in a happy relationship now, is your partner someone you noticed very quickly or did it take time for him/her to get your attention?
8. Do you remember when your significant other said “I love you” to you for the first time? Was it spontaneous or thought out? What was your reaction?
9. Have you ever done anything out of your comfort zone to gain an advantage, either for work to personally…like Jolie trying to be a pastry chef?
10. Has anyone scared the beejeezus out of you for fun? What happened?
11. Do you understand Jolie’s reservations about getting involved with Gabriel or do you think she is crazy for not grabbing him fast? How do you think someone like Gabriel would be to live with? Is Jolie a match for him?
12. Food and the act of feeding are dominant themes in Florand’s novels. What do you think of her use of these themes? How and why do they become so important? Do you agree with this importance, in real life or in the symbolic use in the novels?
13. So for you—Paris or Provence?