1. We join Martha, Jocasta, and Clio at Heathrow Airport a year before a baby is born to, and abandoned by, one of them. And then get to know them a little better in the early chapters. Purely on the basis of their personalities, which of them seemed the most likely to have done something so shocking and wretched; and why?
2. Did you guess correctly? Did you spot the qualities that made such a course of action possible? And if you were wrong, what specific things misled you?
3. Did you sympathise with the woman who abandoned her baby? What would drive someone to such desperate actions? Can you imagine a situation or a time in your life when you might have done something equally devastating? Can anyone (mother or child) ever recover from such an event?
4. In England in the 1980s it was fairly common children from well-to-do families to spend a year travelling the world between high school and college. Discuss your own experiences of travel during that period in your life. How did travel change you? Would you allow your teenage daughter to travel alone to Bangkok and the Far East in this day and age?
5. Female friendships can be very complex. What do you suppose drove Martha, Clio and Jocasta apart? Have you lost touch with a friend and re-connected with that person later in life?
6. English politics, an essential ingredient of the book in the struggle for power are very idiosyncratic; the personal politics of several of the characters could well be described as equally so. Yet the less ambitious characters, e.g. Helen, Kate’s adoptive mother, and Nat, her boyfriend, have been declared some of the more multi dimensional characters in the book. Would you agree with this and if so why?
7. It could be argued either that Jocasta acted completely against her own character, in marrying Gideon Keeble; or that it was in absolute accord with her desire for love and security. Which do you think?
8. Kate is deeply distressed by the loss of Martha, when she had spent her whole life railing against her. Why do you think this is?
9. Vincenzi describes several marriages in Sheer Abandon: Helen and Jim Tarrant, Jocasta and Gideon Keeble, Clio and Jeremy Graves, Grace and Peter Hartley, Beatrice and Josh Forbes. How does each couple deal with strains on their relationship? What factors help dictate whether these marriages endure or fall apart?
10. Martha, Clio, and Jocasta all struggle to balance a successful career with their relationships with family, friends, and significant others. How does each character prioritize her life? Do you know women facing similar difficulties?
11. How does the book address the struggle for an adopted child, like Kate, to come to terms with her parentage? Who does she ultimately consider to be her “real” mother? How does her relationship with Jim differ from her relationship with her biological father?
12. Did you enjoy the experience of reading Sheer Abandon? How fast did you read it? What kept you hooked?