Nancy Thayer whisks readers back to Nantucket in a delightful novel about two single parents who accidentally rent the same summer house—and must soon decide where their hearts truly lie.
Discussion Questions for The Guest House by Nancy Thayer
1. On page 80, Sophie thinks to herself, “When one door closes in your life, another door opens. But what if the entire house comes down?” For Sophie and Trevor, a summer in Nantucket holds so much more than fun in the sun. They resolve unfinished business, get to spend time with their kids, and even learn to love again. Do you think any of this would have happened if they hadn’t had to share the guest cottage?
2. Living under the same roof, Sophie and Trevor are forced to compromise. Do you think they’re the better for it? Have you ever thought of a compromise you’ve had to make as an opportunity to grow?
3. Compare Trevor and Sophie’s parenting styles. What do you think each of their approaches say about them? What do they do differently? Do you think they learn anything from each other?
4. At Sophie’s dinner party in chapter 19, Connor tells the story of Wooly Bully, a stubborn bull that his wife succeeded in taming on their farm. Why do you think he tells this story to the Andersons and the Blacks?
5. On page 238, Trevor muses that perhaps the traditional family “never existed except on Christmas cards.” Do you agree with Trevor?
6. Similarly, in chapter 32 Trevor’s son Leo asks Sophie, “Are you my family?” How do you define family? How do you think it is defined in The Guest Cottage?
7. Sophie admits that she never loved Zack as much as she loved music, and Trevor acknowledges that he was drawn to Tallulah for superficial reasons. Do you think their reasons for marrying the first time were similar or different?
8. On page 204, Trevor observes that sometimes “people marry the wrong people to get the right children.” What do you think about that statement?
9. When Sophie sees the piano in the music room, her dreams of becoming a concert pianist come flooding back to her. Although music has always been her first love, she hasn’t played a note since she froze on stage as a teenager. Why do you think Sophie froze? What do you think enables her to play again?
10. Have you ever rediscovered something you were passionate about? What made you revisit it?
11. Throughout The Guest Cottage, Leo struggles to play the song his mother used to sing to him on the piano. Why do you think Sophie is the one who recognizes the song he is attempting to play?
12. Sophie rents the guest cottage with help from the inheritance left to her by her unsinkable Aunt Fancy. Aunt Fancy was a woman of many mottos. “If I’ve gotta go down, I’m gonna go down in style,” Sophie remembers her saying. Even in memory, she inspires Sophie to love life and take chances. Does Aunt Fancy remind you of anyone who tells you, in one way or another, “If the horse throws you, climb right back on”?