Book Club Party Kit for The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen includes book club discussion questions and party menu.
The April pick for our Book Club for Recovering Readers is "The Night Garden" by Lisa Van Allen.
Since I knew how much everyone from our book club enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen last year, I was immediately drawn to this pick for it's similar magical realism.
Additionally, I thought it made the perfect spring selection since the plot revolves around a magical garden.
Though I may not have the greenest of thumbs myself, I am an avid flower lover and garden appreciator. I thought the sweet story of Olivia and Sam and their challenging romance was just right for me this month.
I appreciated the lovely descriptions of the blooming flowers and the impact of working on the farm had on the characters.
I appreciated the similarities between this book and the Sarah Addison Allen books I have loved -- a small town filled with families that each have their own magical trait along with a light romantic plot line.
But the contrast between Olivia and Sam's physical challenges was particularly interesting to me. I loved watching how that conflict would attempt to resolve.
I struggled most with the character of Arthur, Olivia's father. As a parent, I can't even imagine relating to portions of his plot line.
While this wasn't exactly a page-turner book for me, it is one where I looked forward to each reading session.
I found it to be one of the more relaxing and enjoyable books I've picked up in a while. Light hearted, sweet, intriguing, and with a couple unexpected little plot points.
Peanut Blossom Book Club
This book was our official October 2016 pick for the Peanut Blossom Book Club.
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What is The Night Garden About?
Nestled in the bucolic town of Green Valley in upstate New York, the Pennywort farm appears ordinary, yet at its center lies something remarkable: a wild maze of colorful gardens that reaches beyond the imagination.
Local legend says that a visitor can gain answers to life’s most difficult problems simply by walking through its lush corridors.
Yet the labyrinth has never helped Olivia Pennywort, the garden’s beautiful and enigmatic caretaker. She has spent her entire life on her family’s land, harboring a secret that forces her to keep everyone at arm’s length.
But when her childhood best friend, Sam Van Winkle, returns to the valley, Olivia begins to question her safe, isolated world and wonders if she at last has the courage to let someone in.
As she and Sam reconnect, Olivia faces a difficult question: Is the garden maze that she has nurtured all of her life a safe haven or a prison?
The Night Garden Book Club Questions
I believe the best book club questions to spark a lively discussion in your group help readers make personal connections to the story.
You can read about how to write the best book club questions on your own here, but hopefully these will get you started!
What did you think of the pick? Is it something you would have chosen for yourself or a new-to-you genre?
The families of Green Valley each seem to have a different magical power or family legacy.
If you could assign a similar power to your family line, what would it be?
A central theme in the novel is temptation, the idea of desperately wanting what we know may be bad for us or others.
How do you think it is best to deal with temptation? Is it ever ok to give in?
Arthur was completely against 'the concert' when it came to town.
He realized after meeting Alice in the barn afterward it was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Have you ever had a strong opinion of something only to completely change your mind afterwards?
Gloria was into everyone's business and was sure her way was THE best way. How have you handled people like that in your life?
Sam's condition causes him to lose all sensation of touch.
Which loss of sensation do you think you would find most jarring: the ability to feel hot/cold, textures, pain, or the ability to taste?
Olivia accuses Sam of trying to change who she is and for not loving her as she is.
Did you feel Sam was being selfish or was he trying to help? What would you have done in his shoes?
If you had Olivia's condition, which do you think would be more difficult to bear: the loss of human contact or the loss of female friendships?
Could Olivia have developed true friends despite her condition?
Arthur warns Olivia that to find love will to be to experience great loss. Who was he trying to protect, Olivia or himself?
The description of the Pennywort maze and gardens reminded me so much of the Chicago Botanic Garden where I spent countless hours with my girls as babies.
Do you have a botanic garden near you? Which of the Pennywort gardens would you most like to see or is there one that you would love to add to their collection?
Book Club Party Menu
Plan a garden party menu for this book club party with an emphasis on recipes that use things you could grow in an orchard or your backyard veggie garden.
Some of my favorite ideas include:
You May Also Enjoy
If you enjoyed this book, you'd likely enjoy these other fun book club picks from through the years: