Excerpted from Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner. Copyright © 2009 by Tina Ann Forkner. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
1. When Lillian discovers her most private moment of grief has been captured on canvas by an anonymous artist, her journey to come to terms with the artist and the painting leads her to discover the true meaning behind the Rose House. What is the meaning behind the Rose House for Lillian? For Kitty? And for Truman? What, if anything, does the Rose House mean to Geena?
2. Have you ever had your own personal Rose House—a place or group of friends or family that brought about healing in your life? Share your experience.
3. What role does Aunt Bren play in this story? Describe someone who has played a similar role in your life.
4. Why does Lillian cling to the memory of her deceased husband
even after she learns he wasn’t everything she thought he was
when he was alive? What does this say about the nature of love? Do you think Lillian ever stops being in love with Robert? Why? Is it truly possible to love two people in one’s lifetime, or is there only one soul mate per person who makes everyone else pale in comparison? Explain.
5. Lillian vacillates between being head over heels in love with Truman and not trusting him. Why? Is it ever possible to be 100 percent certain that a person is the right one? What makes it so hard to know?
6. What drove Geena to essentially abandon Lillian after the accident? Was there ever a time in the story that you thought Geena was trying to harm Lillian? How does Geena’s attitude toward her sister change throughout the novel? How do Lillian’s feelings toward her sister change?
7. When is it okay to draw a line between yourself and another family member, as Lillian did between herself and Geena? Do you think God always expects total forgiveness? What actions and events led to reconciliation between Geena and Lillian?
8. The cross necklace that belonged to Lillian’s daughter is very meaningful to Lillian. Why else is it significant to Lillian’s journey?
9. Lillian drew a line between herself and God after losing her children. Why do you think she did this? What events and encounters eventually began to close that gap?
10. How much fault, if any, did Lillian bear when it came to her troubles with Geena? Do you think she did enough to make amends with Geena? What about Geena? Is it even possible for someone like Geena to make up for what they have done to others? Can we ever truly erase the harm we do to others? What makes two sisters, raised in the same family, take such different paths in life as Geena and Lillian did for many years?
11. Truman seeks to show truth in his paintings, but truth isn’t always what the viewer of the painting wants to see. How well do you think Beauty and the Beast Within mirrors Lillian’s journey of grief and healing? How does Truman’s depiction of her change over time? Why does Truman sometimes paint secret images in his paintings?
12. Truman knows his own private loss. How does meeting Lillian help him find healing? How does the grief Truman and Lillian each know bring them together? Does it ever push them apart?
13. Truman leaves Lillian behind for a time to give her time and space. Do you think he did the right thing? Why or why not?
14. Charles is an artist too. What do you think he means in the end when he says that once people know they are being observed, it is more difficult to capture the truth of the moment on their faces? Why does Truman tell Charles to look for truth in his work?
15. What did the author mean by describing each character at the end as being poised at the edge of a blank canvas?
16. Imagine that God is the Master Artist who is purposely painting your life on a canvas. What do you think your portrait looks like now? Describe what you hope it will look like when the paint dries.