Book Club Discussion: Eight Hundred Grapes

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. The one common denominator for the Ford siblings is love of their mother’s lasagna. Do you have a similar tradition in your family? What brings you together, no matter what?

Similar to the book, my family has always bonded over family dinners. Every night growing up everyone sat down to a home cooked meal free of distractions and talked to each other. Now that we’re older we have the same family dinners when everyone is in town!

2. How does forgiveness play into this story? Could you forgive Ben for hiding Maddie? Could you forgive Finn for kissing Margaret?

I don’t think I could forgive Ben for hiding Maddie. Asking Georgia to marry him should mean he’s asking her to be his partner in life. This means they should deal with conflicts together. A big secret like that would not be a good start to a marriage. When it comes to Finn, he is family so even though it may take some time, he should be forgiven. Forgiveness is part of being a family. With Ben, Georgia still has a choice.

3. Why is Jacob unexpectedly appealing to Georgia? Discuss their similarities, both in personality and life paths.

They are both following the path of their families. They have both tried to stray from the family legacy but ultimately end up right back where they never thought they wanted to be and realize it’s where they belong.

4. Ben takes full responsibility for lying, but Finn points out that Georgia wasn’t necessarily tuned in to her fiancé. Discuss whether there are two sides to every conflict, even when something seems black and white.

There are definitely two sides to every conflict but that doesn’t mean one can’t be more wrong or right than the other.

5. Do you think that Georgia will be happy running the vineyard and being with Jacob? Why or why not? What’s the biggest lesson she has learned?

Yes. When she moved away from the vineyard, she tried to create a life for herself that was the opposite of her life growing up. In the end, she realizes she’s not being true to herself and belongs back at the vineyard where she really wanted to be all along.

Share your comments below!

Questions by: Hello Book Lover and Simon and Schuster

Book Club Discussion: The Signature of All Things

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ve added our thoughts for each question as well. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. The Signature of All Things takes as its first focus not the book’s heroine, Alma Whittaker, but her rough-and-tumble father, Henry. Why do you think Elizabeth Gilbert made this choice in her narration, and why are the first fifty pages essential to the rest of the novel?

I flew through the first half of this book and the first 50 pages chronicling the adventures of Alma’s father were a big part of this. I absolutely loved this part of the book. Gilbert seemed to intend that these first 50 pages featuring the adventures and travels of Alma’s father function in stark contrast to the cloistered life of Alma, who rarely strayed a few miles from the Philadelphia estate for most of her life. It further emphasized the fact that, despite being curious and clever like her father, she was only able to explore the world in microcosm on the grounds of the estate.

2. Alma Whittaker grows up in the richest family in Philadelphia. In what ways does her father’s fortune set her free? In what ways is it a prison?

Her father’s fortune allows Alma the freedom to learn and explore. Since she does not have to work like many young people did during this time, her main focus is expanding her brain and satiating her endless curiosity. Despite the wealth, Alma never strays far from home. I felt that it was a bit unclear why the family never traveled. It seems as though they could have easily done so. Her father’s decision to remain sequestered on the estate forces Alma to live in a very small world, with only her books as a means to explore the world beyond the walls.

3. Alma’s husband, Ambrose Pike, offers her a marriage filled with deep respect, spiritual love, intellectual adventure-and positively no sex. Should she have been contented with this arrangement?

I don’t think she should have settled for the arrangement, particularly because there was a clear miscommunication going into the marriage. It doesn’t seem fair to ask that Alma be contented with the situation just because everything else was so great. Alma’s sexuality is clearly a large part of who she is and was one of the main things she was looking forward to if a romance ever did come her way. I was actually quite surprised when she back out after finding out Ambrose did not want to be intimate. I thought for sure she would settle for the situation minus the sex.

4. What did you think of Alma’s decision to go to Tahiti?

As far as the storyline goes, I understand why the author had her go there but I did not agree with Alma’s choice to do so. It seemed like weird way to gain closure on the situation. I would even argue that she did not get full closure, though the book made it seem that way. Her time in Tahiti was my least favorite part of the novel and was difficult for me to get through.

5. Alma loved mosses and Ambrose loved orchids, how did their botanical favorites relate to their characters?

I really loved this dichotomy. Alma has a revelatory moment and mosses become her passion. Much like Alma, mosses are slow and steady, not shifting much over the course of many years. I felt that this mirrored Alma’s stasis as she stayed inside the walls of her childhood home. In order to see and understand the complexity of mosses you had too look closely. Similarly, Alma is quite private and keeps much of her complex thinking to herself, unsure of how to tell others how she feels. Ambrose is quite the opposite. Like an orchid, he is beautiful, bright and lively. He seems to wear his heart on his sleeve and offer his complex thoughts and opinions to anyone who asks. His one secret, his homosexuality could perhaps be compared to the manner in which orchids rarely bloom, something he was never able to fully unveil until he traveled to Tahiti.

Share your comments below!

Explore further: Author interview! 
Questions by: Hello Book Lover and Penguin Random House

July Book Reveal: The Rocks

the rocks

The Rocks: A Novel by Peter Nichols

“Set against dramatic Mediterranean Sea views and lush olive groves, The Rocks opens with a confrontation and a secret: What was the mysterious, catastrophic event that drove two honeymooners apart so suddenly and absolutely in 1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island for sixty more years? And how did their history shape the Romeo and Juliet–like romance of their (unrelated) children decades later? Centered around a popular seaside resort club and its community, The Rocks is a double love story that begins with a mystery, then moves backward in time, era by era, to unravel what really happened decades earlier.

Peter Nichols writes with a pervading, soulful wisdom and self-knowing humor, and captures perfectly this world of glamorous, complicated, misbehaving types with all their sophisticated flaws and genuine longing. The result is a bittersweet, intelligent, and romantic novel about how powerful the perceived truth can be—as a bond, and as a barrier—even if it’s not really the whole story; and how one misunderstanding can echo irreparably through decades.”

Sign up for the July box now!

July Book Reveal: A Hundred Summers

A Hundred SummersWe’ll meet you at the beach with this perfect summer read!

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

“Memorial Day, 1938 Lily Dane has returned to Seaview, Rhode Island, where her family has summered for generations. It’s an escape not only from New York’s social scene but from a heartbreak that still haunts her. Here, among the seaside community that has embraced her since childhood, she finds comfort in the familiar rituals of summer.

But this summer is different. Budgie and Nick Greenwald—Lily’s former best friend and former fiancé—have arrived, too, and Seaview’s elite are abuzz. Under Budgie’s glamorous influence, Lily is seduced into a complicated web of renewed friendship and dangerous longing.

As a cataclysmic hurricane churns north through the Atlantic, and uneasy secrets slowly reveal themselves, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional storm that will change their worlds forever…”

5 Uses for a Canvas Tote Bag

Subscription BoxIf you subscribe to Hello Book Lover, you received a cute canvas tote bag in your May box. If not, you may still have one laying around that you should put to good use! Here are some ideas of how to use a canvas tote. Whatever you use it for, don’t forget to throw in your book! (except maybe when you go to the grocery store!)

  1. School/work: big enough to fit your day planner, wallet, lunch and a sweater.
  2. Grocery store/farmer’s market: these make adorable reusable bags for your groceries and you’ll look super cute carrying it around at the farmer’s market with some fresh flowers.
  3. Beach: throw in your sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and towel and you’re set to go!
  4. Everyday: use your tote as your everyday bag for a casual summer look. With a larger bag you can be ready for whatever the summer days bring you!
  5. Day trip: Pack your bathing suit, a change of clothes, snacks and drinks for a day trip adventure.

Show us how you’re using your new tote! #hellobooklover

Book Club Discussion: Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1.When Eilis and Tony first meet, she seems more interested in him as an escape from her troublesome housemates than as a genuine romantic interest. Tony, however, is clear about his love for Eilis from the start. Why do you think Eilis is hesitant in her feelings?

2. Imagine Eilis in today’s world. Do you see her primarily as a career-motivated woman, or as a wife and mother?

3. If Eilis had been able to choose freely, between Brooklyn and Tony, and Enniscorthy and Jim, what do you think she would have chosen?

4. If Tony and Eilis were a couple in today’s world, would their relationship have lasted?

5. Is Eilis really a young woman who does not choose, who allows others to determine her fate? Why?

6. For those who have seen the Oscar winning movie adaption, what were the most striking differences between the book and the movie?

Questions by: Hello Book Lover and Simon and Shuster


Hi, I’m Alexis, cofounder of Hello Book Lover! I am jumpstarting the Brooklyn discussion with my responses below:

1. When Eilis and Tony first meet, she seems more interested in him as an escape from her troublesome housemates than as a genuine romantic interest. Tony, however, is clear about his love for Eilis from the start. Why do you think Eilis is hesitant in her feelings?

Eilis is portrayed as a passive person and not having anyone in Brooklyn to help her with decisions made her hesitant with Tony.

2. Imagine Eilis in today’s world. Do you see her primarily as a career-motivated woman, or as a wife and mother?

I’m having a hard time with this one, as I can see it going either way. I’m curious to see what other people think!

3. If Eilis had been able to choose freely, between Brooklyn and Tony, and Enniscorthy and Jim, what do you think she would have chosen?

I think she would have chosen Enniscorthy and Jim. This was the easier choice to make as her mother and everything she knew was in Enniscorthy. The only thing waiting for her in Brooklyn was Tony. If they had not been married it would have been easier for her to just not go back.

4. If Tony and Eilis were a couple in today’s world, would their relationship have lasted?

Relationships can withstand a lot more distance and time than they probably used to, as shown in Brooklyn. The long travel time and lack of communication during Eilis’ trip home could certainly have been avoided in today’s world.

5. Is Eilis really a young woman who does not choose, who allows others to determine her fate? Why?

It does seem that Eilis is very indecisive regarding major life decisions. She ultimately goes with the choice someone else makes for her. We see this first with her decision to move to Brooklyn. She never really has much of a choice after her sister sets everything up for her. It seems like she is undecided about going to Brooklyn but in the end just goes because the decision was already made for her. She doesn’t want to disappoint other people.

6. For those who have seen the Oscar winning movie adaption, what were the most striking differences between the book and the movie?

In the movie it seemed that Eilis’s feelings toward Tony simply faded due to distance and time whereas in the book Eilis expressed some real doubts about whether or not she even loved Tony. Personally, I liked how it was portrayed in the movie better.

Share your answers below!

Book Club Discussion: Longbourn, by Jo Baker

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Longbourn, by Jo Baker. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

1. What did you think of Jo Baker’s choice to include multiple characters’ perspectives? Did you prefer the perspective of any specific character over the others?

2. Thoughts on the introductory quotes at the beginning of each chapter?

3. Several of the characters had secrets (Mrs. Hill, Mr. Bennet, James, Mr. Hill) Did you suspect any of these secrets before they were revealed?

4. Have you read Pride and Prejudice? For those who have read it, do you feel like it was necessary background reading or did Jo Baker’s novel fully stand on its own?

5. What did you think of Jo Baker’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, the much-loved heroine of Pride and Prejudice? Comments on her portrayals of any other characters from Pride and Prejudice?

6. Focus Features purchases the film rights to the book several years ago. Who would you like to see play Sarah and James?

Questions by Hello Book Lover and Random House.

Explore further: A fun Q&A with Jo Baker from NPR!


Hi, I’m Lauren, cofounder of Hello Book Lover! I am jumpstarting the Longbourn discussion with my responses below:

  1. What did you think of Jo Baker’s choice to include multiple characters’ perspectives? Did you prefer the perspective of one character over the others?

This caught me off guard at first. I am not sure I can think of another book I’ve read written in this format. I got used to it really quickly, and didn’t really think about it again. It was interesting to read multiple points of view in real time.

2. Thoughts on the introductory quotes at the beginning of each chapter?

I believe the quotes were pulled directly from Pride and Prejudice, right? I liked them, because they acted a subtle markers of the Pride and Prejudice narrative happening upstairs.

On another note, I liked that Mr. Bennet was portrayed as kind of a jerk and Jo Baker made you feel a little sorry for Mrs. Bennet!

3. Several of the characters had secrets (Mrs. Hill, Mr. Bennet, James, Mr. Hill) Did you suspect any of the plot twists related to these secrets before they were revealed?

I wholly suspected James’ secret, Baker made it pretty obvious. The Mr. Bennet/Mrs. Hill plot twist was a complete surprise! The way she revealed that James was their son was fairly subtle and in one sentence. I had to read it twice to make sure I was interpreting correctly!

4. Have you read Pride and Prejudice? For those who have read it, do you feel like it was necessary background reading or did Jo Baker’s novel fully stand on its own?

I think the book could easily stand on its own, but, in my opinion, half the fun of Longbourn was seeing the narrative of Pride and Prejudice through a completely different lens. I am not sure I would have liked the book as much if I hadn’t read Jane Austen’s novel. It kind of felt like being part of a secret background plot.

5. What do you think of Jo Baker’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, the much-loved heroine of Pride and Prejudice?

Seeing how Jo Baker portrayed various characters from Pride and Prejudice was the most enjoyable part of the book for me. I rather enjoyed that Elizabeth was not depicted in the best light. This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I have never really loved Elizabeth Bennet as a character and never fully understood everyone’s obsession with the love story between her and Mr. Darcy. Jo Baker makes Lizzie Bennet seem less steadfast than in Jane Austen’s novel. She depicts Elizabeth’s doubt before her marriage, her uncertainty when she first moved in with Mr. Darcy, and her eagerness to please her new husband. This felt very real to me and I was more on board with Jo Baker’s version of Elizabeth Bennet than I was with Jane Austen’s. Jane Austen never convinced me that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy were a perfect match, and I like that Jo Baker subtly highlighted some of the imperfections in their union.

6. Focus Features purchases the film rights to the book several years ago. Who would you like to see play Sarah and James?

I am so terrible with actors’ names, I will leave this one to the rest of you.

Please add your comments below!

June Book Reveal: Eight Hundred Grapes

Eight Hundred Grapes book

Starting out with the quote “You have to grow about eight hundred grapes to get just one bottle of wine. If that isn’t an argument to finish the bottle, I don’t know what is.” you know it’s going to be good. So grab a glass of wine and relax with this read!

“There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide… What if your beloved fiancé, he of the crinkly smile and irresistible British accent, had kept a life-changing secret from you? And what if, just a week before your dream wedding, you discovered it?

Georgia Ford, bride-to-be, hops in her car and drives through the night, from Los Angeles to Sonoma, to her safe haven: her family, and the acclaimed family winery. Georgia craves the company of those who know her best, and whom she truly knows. Better yet, it’s the eve of the last harvest—the best time of the growing season, and Georgia knows she’ll find solace—and distraction—in the familiar rituals. But when Georgia arrives home, nothing is at all familiar. Her parents, her brothers, the family business, are all unrecognizable. It seems her fiancé isn’t the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Eight Hundred Grapes is a story about the messy realities of family, the strength (and weaknesses) of romantic love, and the importance of finding a place to call home. “This winning tale will both satisfy on a literary level and encourage oenophiles to pour themselves a glass of a recent vintage to enjoy while reading; it’s a tasty treat for wine lovers and teetotalers alike” (Publishers Weekly). You won’t be able to put this “addictive” (Us Weekly) novel down.”

Sign up for our June box here!

June Book Reveal: The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things book

Check out one of our June reads below! Get transported to another time and get lost in this novel by #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert.

“In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.”

Sign up for your June box today!

May Book Reveal: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

brooklyn book

This New York Time’s bestseller is now a major motion picture. Academy Award nominee for Best Picture in 2016, you definitely want to check out this book and then go see the movie!

“Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Colm Tóibín’s sixth novel, Brooklyn, is set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself.

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America — to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood “just like Ireland” — she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.”

Sign up for our May box here!