The Life Intended (Paperback)
Gallery Books, 9781476754154, 368pp.
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover, Large Print (4/8/2015)
After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?
At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.
About the Author
Praise For The Life Intended…
— Kirkus Reviews
"The latest from Harmel...is an affecting tale about finding happiness amid grief and guilt. Some twists are telegraphed early in the novel, but that doesn’t diminish the satisfying conclusion."
"Harmel manages to deliver an immersive and evocative tale of generations struggling to survive. Recipes sprinkled throughout the book allow readers to experience firsthand the sweetness of Hope's journey."
— Publishers Weekly on THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING
"THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING is absolutely enthralling and full of twists and turns that add to the drama and keeps the tale moving along. Author Kristin Harmel does a magnificent job of telling this saga of one family's search for understanding. She also handles her approach to Alzheimer's disease with gentleness and understanding. Readers will remember THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING long after the final page is turned."
— Fresh Fiction
"Kristin Harmel's novels are written with a lot of heart and soul. She has a way of bringing the reader into her stories in such a powerful way that they can often forget they're reading at all. The Sweetness of Forgetting may just be Harmel's best book yet."
— Lisa Steinke
"The kind of book that stays with you … Incredibly moving moments serve as beautiful relief [to the darker subplot]. The ending will no doubt bring tears to your eyes."
— Romantic Times on THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING
“Kristin Harmel writes with such insight and heart that her characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished her books.”
—New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin
“Kristin Harmel...[is] one of my favorite authors!”
–Melissa Senate, bestselling author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School
"The Sweetness of Forgetting pulls together in the end like a warm embrace"
— The Modern Manuscript on THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
Before his death, Kate and Patrick share a special phrase, “I knew before I met you . . . that I was meant to be yours.” How do you think this theme continues to echo throughout the novel as Kate struggles to understand her destiny?
Discuss how karma figures into Kate’s story. Patrick superstitiously collects silver coins and then returns them to the universe when experiencing a stroke of good fortune. How do Kate’s feelings about this habit change? What does it mean when she finally relinquishes Patrick’s last coin?
When Dan proposes, Kate is besieged by memories of Patrick that are still fresh even twelve years after his death. Discuss how familiar relationship milestones can trigger the emotion of past loves. Do you sympathize with Kate in this moment? Or should she focus on moving on?
As Kate is swept into the past, she must also contend with a certainty about her future‚—her infertility. Discuss her regret upon realizing that she can’t ever get pregnant. How does she react to Dan’s complete indifference to this news?
When Kate wakes up to a dream version of Patrick, she is confronted by a world that is strangely familiar yet full of differences from the life she knew with him. She meets Hannah, a hard of hearing girl who can’t possibly be her biological daughter; finds that her sister, Susan, has a happy life in San Diego; and realizes that she no longer works with children. What kind of trade-offs have occurred in a world where Patrick is still alive?
Kate relies heavily on Gina, a friend who also lost her first husband, for emotional support. Are Kate and Gina alike in the way they handle grief? How are they different?
As both a music therapist and a volunteer for St. Anne’s, Kate consistently witnesses the healing effects that music can have on struggling children. But not all of her students are easy to reach. Who do you think is the toughest shell to crack, and why? How does Kate earn their trust?
As Kate’s dreams become more frequent, her experiences with Andrew are connecting her in new ways to the “real world.” Why do you think she is so drawn to him? What about their pasts bring them together now?
On the day she goes wedding dress shopping, Kate is haunted by the lace gown she wore when she first walked down the aisle. She’s also certain that she sees her dream daughter, Hannah, pass by on the street. Discuss the fine line between being stuck in the past and letting that past inform your future. What is Kate’s gut trying to tell her here?
When Dan says his friend Stephen has accidentally gotten a girl pregnant, Kate feels very conflicted. Discuss this moment in the novel and how it relates to her confession to Joan about wanting to be a mother. How does this moment influence Kate’s decision to call off her wedding to Dan?
Kate tells Dan that “sometimes the greatest things in life come from the greatest challenges.” (pg. 134) What do you think Kate’s greatest challenge was at the beginning of the novel? What do you think it is by the end?
During her dreams, Kate realizes that while some parts of her life are drastically different, her essential characteristics and tastes remain the same. How much do you think a person can change over their lifetime? And which aspects of an individual personality are more likely to stay constant?
Kate’s mother reminds her that if she is not careful, “regret will grow in spaces you don’t even know are there.” (pg. 165) What do you think she means by this? Do you think Kate finds a way to take her advice?
Although Kate does not end up adopting Allie, she is cleared as a foster parent and finds her way to Patrick’s lost daughter. She also realizes that Andrew might never have made such an impact at St. Anne’s if he hadn’t lost his brother at a young age. While the novel doesn’t necessarily imply that life is fair, it does suggest that there is a balance and order to things. Do you agree with this outlook? Why or why not?