Discussion Guide

ML with a San Diego Book Club

ML with a San Diego Book Club

In many ways Leo is a deeply flawed person. Did this affect how you related to him? Can you think of other well-known literary figures who were similarly “morally challenged?”

Martha and Leo both survive very tragic events early in their lives. How do you think this affects their initial attraction to each other?

Leo denies his Jewish heritage in an attempt to protect his family. What do you think of this decision?

Were the consequences of some of Leo’s choices predictable or unexpected?

Do you think you would have liked living in Shanghai during the 1920s and early 1930s?

Why do you think Leo made Maddy go with Amelia? Did you feel that his decision was the correct one, given the information he had at the time?

Do you think that Maddy was better off staying with the O’Connor family rather than going to a European boarding school to be closer to her father?

The author relies extensively on historical facts to help build the plot. Do you think she does so effectively?

What role does the ability to forgive and accept forgiveness play in the relationships between the main characters?

What parallels do you see between the political situation in China in the 1920’s and ’30’s, and some global trouble spots today? Is there anything to be learned from the experience of the European powers in Shanghai?

What do you think is in store for Leo and Madeleine?