The Color of Heaven

The Color of Heaven Book Cover

Discussion Questions

Spoiler Alert: Please note that the questions below contain spoilers.

  1. In chapter one, Sophie mentions her first love, Kirk Duncan, and says: “I knew that no matter where life took us, I would always love him.” Do you believe she made a mistake to let him go? Was her marriage to Michael a mistake?
  2. Sophie’s husband Michael wants to have another child when Megan is ill. Do you think Sophie was right to say no, and do you think it would have made a difference in keeping their marriage together if she had gotten pregnant at that time?
  3. When Sophie rekindles her romance with Kirk after she wakes up in the hospital, do you believe it was the right thing for her to do, or do you feel she was playing it safe, retreating into a former, familiar comfort zone?
  4. Different sections of the book have different headings: Sunshine and Rain, Going Home, Cora’s Story, Flowers, The Deep Blue Sea, Mountains, Life. What is the significance of these headings in terms of the story structure and the themes?
  5. In chapter thirty-two, just before Matt walks back into Cora’s life, she says: “It was early October in 1968 when the monstrous wave crashed and exploded onto the coastline of my life, changing my future forever.” Earlier in chapter twenty-nine, not long after she and Peter share their first kiss at the lake, she says: “The woods were quiet that day. I couldn’t hear the sea.” What is the significance of these two ideas in relation to Peter and Matt, and where else in the novel does “land and sea” play a part in terms of symbolism? What does this reveal about Cora and what she wants out of life?
  6. Peter quickly comes to Cora’s rescue after Matt’s death and offers her marriage. Do you think she was right to accept him? Did you feel that Peter was taken advantage of, or did you view him as a heroic character?
  7. When Sophie leaves the hospital to return to her mother’s house in Camden, did you know that she was still having an out-of-body experience? At what point in the novel did you realize that Cora was dead, and that the Camden world was not real? What were some early clues that suggested it was an out-of-body experience?
  8. Grief is an important theme in the novel. How does it affect Sophie’s relationship with her father, Peter, and how does it affect the breakdown of her marriage? What were some similarities in these two relationships? Do you believe Sophie and Kirk will be able to weather future storms in their marriage if grief becomes an issue?
  9. How does the discovery of Matt’s manuscript in Peter’s attic change Sophie’s life? Do you think Matt wanted her to publish his novel? Why or why not?