About the Author
Iris Anthony is a pseudonym. The writer behind the name is an award-winning author of eleven novels, including The Ruins of Lace. She lives in the Washington, DC metro area. Learn more about Iris at www.irisanthony.com
Reading Group Guide
1. How do you define a miracle? Do you believe in them?
2. Everyone puts their faith in something. What do you place your faith in?
3. Juliana counseled her daughter not to despise the life she had been given. Do you think this was good advice? Would you have said something different to Gisele instead?
4. Was Juliana right in leaving Charles?
5. Juliana believed that by retreating to live at the abbey, she had left the world behind. She says, “Our abbey was not a kingdom. Our doings did not affect the world beyond our gates.” Was she right? Have you ever retreated, hoping to leave the world behind? Did it work?
6. In some ways, this book is set up as a battle between God and men. Gisele states, “My fate had already been determined by men. I did not think there was anything God could do now to intervene.” At another point the Queen Mother says, “God always gets His way in the end, does He not? How can you fight Providence and ever hope to win?” With which of those ideas do you agree?
7. Contrast the descriptions of Paradise and Valhalla. How did each culture’s view of death affect their actions?
8. When Anna is lost in the woods, she tries to find her way out. At one point she thinks, “What purpose had the boulder served but to mark the place at which I had known myself to be lost? And why should I be so set on returning there? It could do nothing for me but keep me waylaid. In order to be found, I had to be willing to leave it behind.” What did each character have to be willing to leave behind in order to move forward?
9. Anna had been told her disability was a curse from God. Was there any way in which it might have been a blessing?
10. Why do think Anna was healed when so many other pilgrims were not?
11. At one point, Gisele states, “How easy it is to trust in God when you do not have to trust Him for your life.” Andulf replies, “On the contrary. I think it would be far more difficult to trust if nothing depended upon my faith.” Which character do you agree with?
12. Did Gisele make the right choice in terms of her relationship with Andulf? What other ending would you have written for her?
13. Would you rather live in a world without faith or without hope?
14. Who was the miracle thief?