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The Best of Times

The Best of Times Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. The role of chance in our lives is a major theme in this novel. Given the outcomes of the accident for the main characters, how do you interpret the difference between chance and fate in the book? Do you believe in fate?

2. There are many depictions of women in the novel, both young and old. Did you find the female characters true to life? Who did you relate to most?

3. The accident is the pivotal moment in the plot when the characters lives collide and are changed forever for better or worse. In that moment, which character did you find yourself sympathizing with most and why? Do you have any real anecdotes about traumatic life-altering moments that youd like to share?

4. In the beginning, many of the characters such as Jonathan, Toby, and Abi are portrayed as morally ambiguous. Which characters did you find most difficult to categorize and why? Did anyone surprise you by how they changed in the aftermath of the crash?

5. In many ways, the accident is just as traumatic for those characters who were not on the M4. Did you sympathize with any of them more than with the crash victims?

6. Penny Vincenzi is known for creating large casts of characters and alternating quickly between them. Did you like the continuously shifting narration? Did you find that this style successfully contributed to the tension and suspense in the novel?

7. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and terrible mistakes play a large role in this novel. When Daisy gets hit by a car, did you agree with how Jonathan responds to his son Charlies guilty confession? Do you think it is fair to blame a person for something he/she could never have predicted? Do you think the treatment of the issue of blame is handled well in the novel?

8. Were you surprised that Georgia fled the scene of the accident? Did this storyline successfully add an element of mystery to the plot for you?

9. Its often said that love is a fickle thing. In the case of Barney and Amanda, for instance, how much did chance have to do with their ultimate break-up? Do you think they would have stayed together, if Barney hadnt met Emma at the hospital?

10. An allusion to the famous first line of Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, the title of this novel could be interpreted as ironic. Do you think some of the characters lives were ultimately changed for the better? Was this realistic to you? Do you believe that something good always comes out of something bad?

11. The final part of the novel is entitled “Moving On”. Were you convinced that each character successfully moved on? Were you unsure how any of the relationships would fare in the future? If so, which one?

12. The Best of Times is Penny Vincenzis sixth novel published in the United States. Have you read any of Pennys previous books? If so, how does this one compare?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385528245
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Doubleday
Author:
Vincenzi, Penny
Subject:
Life change events
Subject:
Traffic accidents
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Contemporary Women
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Publication Date:
20090714
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
608
Dimensions:
9.7 x 6.45 x 1.5 in 2.05 lb

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

The Best of Times
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$ In Stock
Product details 608 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385528245 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , On an ordinary Friday afternoon, on a highway outside London, a truck suddenly swerves across fives lanes of traffic, careening cars into each other like dominoes and leaving a trail of chaos and confusion. Within minutes, an astounding miles-long pileup has amassed, and as survivors await help, their stories begin to unfold. There’s the panic-stricken husband trapped in the jam with his mistress, a widow on her way to reunite with her first love, the bridegroom trying frantically to get to the church on time, the young woman going into premature labor, the junior doctor waiting to receive the crash victims in the ER…. And at the center of it all is the only person who knows what really happened, the mysterious hitchhiker who has fled the scene.

With masterful storytelling skill, Penny Vincenzi weaves together the lives of an elaborate cast of characters, exploring their secrets, disappointments, and desires. As the effects of the crash ripple through their lives, as tragedies unfold and secrets are uncovered, as some relationships are ended while others are begun, she demonstrates how the consequences of one small action can change the fates of many, many people in the blink of an eye.

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