The Things You Do for Love: questions for book groups 

  • Henry is obviously a complicated man – full of faults, but also very charming. How did your opinion of him shift throughout the book? Did you end up liking him or loathing him, or somewhere in between?
  • Flora begins the novel suddenly without the responsibilities of career and husband, and finds herself running away to France. Do you fantasise about being able to do something like that? Were you surprised that she chose to come back?
  • Orchards and Les Violettes are two very different settings. How do you think it affects Flora to be in a new place for most of the novel? What did you make of her friendship with Madame Abelard?
  • We see throughout the novel the sacrifices that Flora has made to raise a family. Do you think her daughters will face the same challenges?
  • The novel switches back and forth between Flora and her two daughters. Is there another character whose perspective you would have liked to see?
  • Do you think Alice was right to include the statue of Henry in her show – and to depict him as Bacchus?
  • In the end, do you think that the things you do for love are the things you’re going to treasure? Of which character in the book do you think that’s most (and least) true?
  • Do you feel that the challenges of deciding when to have a child are different when both partners are women? Was Lou right to go ahead with conceiving her baby without her partner’s involvement?
  • In the end, neither Flora nor Kitty has a traditional romantic happy ending. Did you wish either of them had had one? What do you think they might have lost if they had? Or do you think they might still find one?
  • What did you think of the descriptions of Comyn’s paintings throughout the novel? Which did you find most striking?
  • When you look at the cover of the book, who do you think is sitting in the window? Do you think the cover reflects the book well?
  • Flora keeps a secret from her daughters which almost has disastrous consequences. Did you understand why she’d done so – and did you think she was right? Were you surprised when the truth was revealed?
  • What do you think the future holds for Flora and her children?