Book Clubs

Are you in a book club? Let these guides help you facilitate your discussion of Nanette Littlestone’s books.

Book clubs provide the opportunity to be a wonderful connector between readers and authors. I'd love to join in the discussion and talk with your group via phone or video chat. Please contact me to schedule a time.

The Sacred Flame

Spoiler Alert: The following questions contain spoilers to the book.

  1. In 216 BC, Vestals were taken from their family between the ages of 6 to 10 and required to serve Rome chastely for 30 years. What are your thoughts and impressions of that kind of service?
  2. Prior to 600 BC, the Vestals were the princesses of the royal line and procreated freely. Then the patriarchal society assumed prominence. Do you feel Livia’s desire to restore the Vestals’ freedom was warranted? What would you have done in her situation?
  3. Life is a constant series of decisions and choices. When Livia and Gaius meet at the beginning, how do their initial choices affect their future? Did they make the right choices?
  4. Citizens of ancient Rome believed in Fate and the power of gods and goddesses to oversee humans’ lives. How did the characters in this story play out the hand dealt by Fate? How has Fate played a part in your life?
  5. Livia ends her relationship with Kaeso to follow her heart to love and passion with Gaius. How does that affect her? How has following your heart affected you? If you had a chance to relive a past relationship, would you follow the same path?
  6. What is the significance of the ruby ring that Gaius gives Livia? How does wearing the ring put Livia in danger? When have you done something similar in your life?
  7. Livia models her future relationship with Kaeso and Gaius on her parents’ marriage. How unrealistic was that? When in your life have you based your relationships on what someone has or hasn’t done?
  8. What does the sacred flame represent? When the flame goes out, what repercussions does that create? How could Livia have handled this catastrophe differently?
  9. How is Livia’s compassion for others a weakness? How is it a strength? When have you had compassion for others and how did that serve you?
  10. Why does Justina fight so hard for a husband who doesn’t love her? What positive/negative characteristics does she possess? How does she use those to gain advantage?
  11. What character arc do you see with Sextus throughout the story? Why does he champion Livia? What more could he have done to help her at the end?
  12. The main theme of the book is the idea of making sacrifices for love. Do you agree or disagree with the main characters’ choices? Where in your life do you make sacrifices?
  13. How did you feel after reading this book? What was your favorite scene? Which scenes moved you the most? Which were the most poignant? The most uplifting? Which character’s fate was the most tragic? Did the book give you a better understanding of life in the time of the Vestals?
Bella Toscana

Spoiler Alert: The following questions contain spoilers to the book.

  1. The book opens with the line, “I loved him before I knew him.” What is Toscana telling the reader with that statement? What does love mean to her? How does she love Jackson? Is she pretending or is it enough for her to be content with her marriage? Why or why not? Is love something that you go looking for or does it just happen to find you?
  2. What is the significance of the dream in Chapter 1? How can Toscana be in the dream and yet observe the dream at the same time? Have you ever had a dream like this? Did it have importance to you?
  3. Toscana’s mother says, “Life is like bread. If you put nothing in it, it will be plain and simple. Something to get you by, but nothing to excite you. If you fill it with nuts and fruit and spices—the treasures of life—it will warm and nourish you with love and hope, and that is what you need for a life full of riches.” How does Toscana’s life relate to her mother’s saying? How does that change when she visits Rome?
  4. What role do food and chocolate play in Bella Toscana? What role do they play in your life? Why is it so important for Toscana to sell her brownies in Italy? What would her mother say about this?
  5. When Flynn takes Toscana to visit the mosaic in the Sant’ Alessio all’ Aventino, she hears a voice then she has a panic attack. What do you think happened? How do the voice and mosaic and panic attack connect with Flynn and her adventure in Rome? Do you think Toscana is crazy?
  6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Toscana’s and Flynn’s characters? Do they make a good match? Do you believe that opposites attract? Why or why not? How do you feel about a relationship between a younger man and an older woman?
  7. When Toscana visits her aunt and uncle in Tuscany she experiences the feeling of home. How does that differ from being in Atlanta? What is it that gives her the feeling of home? How does that feeling influence her later in the story? Some people feel that home is where the heart is. Is that true for you? What is home to you?
  8. Life is a series of situations and choices. Toscana seems to be caught in a mystery from the moment she starts to explore Rome. Is she making wise choices with her exploration? With Flynn? With Jackson? Why or why not? What would you do differently?
  9. Toscana’s journey to Rome, then Tuscany, and being with Flynn all seem to incite visions of ancient Rome. In Gianna’s reading Toscana hears, “There is joy. So much joy waiting if you let go of the past. Then you can embrace the present.” How do Toscana’s visions tie in to Gianna’s advice?
  10. One of Toscana’s most difficult decisions is to leave Flynn and go back to Atlanta. What does that say about her character? Did she make that choice out of strength or weakness? What would you have done in that situation?
  11. Honesty in friendships comes with responsibility and often undesirable consequences. Revealing the truth about Robert to Charlotte creates a horrible betrayal and almost severs their friendship. How do you feel about Charlotte’s reaction? How do you think Toscana should have handled this delicate matter?
  12. Toscana begins the story not believing in God or Spirit. How does that change? What are her new beliefs at the end of the journey?
  13. What is the overall lesson for Toscana? How does she embrace what she’s learned? Do you believe in following your heart? How does that lesson apply to your life or to someone you know?
  14. How did you feel after reading this book? What was your favorite scene? Which scenes moved you the most? Which were the most poignant? The most uplifting?