1. The author met Pat Conroy when he was at the height of his writing career, and she was just beginning hers. Although writing had been her life-long dream, why hadn’t she pursued it? Do you think her reasons were justified, or just excuses? In what ways did Pat’s support and encouragement help her find her voice as a writer?
2. When Pat and Cassandra first started seeing each other, both had been in tumultuous marriages and gone through painful divorces. Do you think that helped bring them together, or kept them from getting involved? Was Cassandra’s wariness of Pat’s intentions justified? What do you think each saw in the other?
3. Do you interpret Cassandra’s statement that “lowering her expectations about marriage had succeeded beyond her wildest dreams” as tongue-in-cheek, or a serious assessment of their relationship? Did you see Pat as the “most undemanding of husbands,” or more needy than he appeared?
4. Both Cassandra and Pat have suffered from and been treated for severe depression. Do you think creative/artistic personalities are more apt to have problems with depression, and if so, why?
5. Cassandra openly discussed Pat’s self-destructive habits, especially with overindulgence in drink and unhealthy food. Did you see this as a necessary part of their story, or a private matter best left unsaid?
6. Pat and Cassandra had different concepts about spirituality, the afterlife, mysticism, and the supernatural: she’s a believer and he was a skeptic. Which are you, and why?
7. Why do you think the marriage worked out?
8. How did you interpret the message of hope in the afterword?