Questions for Discussion

1) In the beginning, Mae recognizes wishful thinking as a futile preoccupation yet can’t seem to shake the tendency to let her mind entertain what-if and maybe. In what ways can wishful thinking be destructive? How does it differ from hope?

2) Mae is adopted, “not really a Kendrick”. How much does this fact feed into her feeling of isolation? What are some other contributing factors to her loneliness?

3) Early in the story, Mae asks Will if he is a religious man, to which he responds, “Not as many would define the word.”  In what ways did Will demonstrate his spirituality throughout the story?

4) How did past and present struggles of nineteenth century Ireland mirror Mae’s troubles? (Think about marriage during that time--and the law as illustrated in Mrs. Mundy's dismissed court case.)

5) Kieran said to Mae at the Dublin park just before she lost consciousness, “I wouldn’t hurt you. If you remember anything, remember that.” Were these words part of his deception, or was he sincere?

6) “Love is not God.” Mae begins to understand that such words did not diminish love, but “stripped it of the fancy attire she forced it to wear.” Juxtapose this thought with Mae's thoughts on love in the beginning of the story as explained by Keat's poem: "A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness." Do you think these two views of love contradict one another?

7) Mae cries over Kieran at the castle. Why do you believe she was so fast to forgive him? Why did she still want to offer him hope?

8) Do you feel Kieran is saved from hate in the end? Or—like Mae’s earlier assessment at the castle—is he a “crumbling ruin; all his insides are gone”?

9) Do you believe a man can change to the extent Mae’s father did?

10) What are the criteria by which one should be given a second chance? Are there those who should not be given a second chance?

11) Will was struggling with his own ghosts of the past. What was the one thing he had to do to really move forward?

12) As revealed in the Reckoning arrow scene at the castle, the shee adhere to a strict set of laws. Why do you think the author included this scene?

13) What part did time play in this story? 

14) Kieran has some redeeming qualities. Which of these save him from being entirely despicable?

15) Was Mae in love with Kieran?