Twelve Times Blessed

Author: 
Mitchard, Jacquelyn

Jacquelyn Mitchard is one of America's best-loved storytellers. Fans adore her novels for their exquisite, gripping stories about family bonds. Now this master of the drama of daily life offers readers a different kind of boy-meets-girl tale, by turns frank and playful, that ponders the question: Can love conquer marriage?

It is True Dickinson's forty-third birthday, and her best friends have gathered on this snowy night in Cape Cod at a trendy neighborhood restaurant to celebrate. True has never felt more alone.

It's been eight years since the death of her husband, a pilot who, ironically, died in a car crash, leaving her to raise their son on her own. Both her son and her small business are thriving, and True's life is full. The success of her company, the love of her friends, and the proximity of her mother (for better and for worse) leave her with very little time for reflection, but if not now, when? Coming up on forty-three makes True realize that there is an empty space in her life that friends and family cannot fill. She feels her youth and beauty slipping away, and the possibility for romance has never seemed more remote. (From the publisher)

But everything will change the moment True and her beloved assistant, Isabelle, slide into a snow-filled ditch on the drive home. Saved by a young man she met earlier at the restaurant, True comes face-to- face with the opportunity to let love back into her life -- that is, if she can overcome her own fears, and if these two spirits can find a way to tame each other's wild hearts and to curb their supremely independent natures.

Twelve Times Blessed is the story of one year of transformation in a woman's life, and an unforgettable tale of the perils and pleasures of love in the modern age.

Discussion Guide: 

1. What are True's major character traits? What does her name suggest about her? What parallels, if any, are there with Emily Dickinson?

2. What are Hank's strengths and weaknesses? What attracts him to True? Did he encourage her insecurity? Does he betray her trust? Do men and women view sexual infidelity differently? How does True react to Hank's? Is it realistic?

3. Do you think the main conflict between Hank and True is their age difference? Is True's perception of the problem real, or exaggerated? How do you feel about older women and younger men?

4. Do you agree with the saying "Marry in haste, repent in leisure"? Or, if two people fall in love, virtually at first sight, do you believe that waiting is just a waste of time? Do True and Hank have more problems because of their quick wedding?

5. Another area of potential conflict for this relationship could be Hank's racial heritage. How do you feel about Hank's not directly revealing it to True? Do you think, in America, it is more or less significant than the age difference?

6. On the day of Hank's and True's wedding, the author writes, "A wedding, though a union, also is always a collision of conflicting interests, a competition of the most basic sort." Do you agree?

7. The concept of family, and the importance of family, hold a central place in this novel. Discuss Guy as a child and True as a mother--good and bad. What conflicts and benefits does Hank add? What makes a family different from a group of people who happen to live together--and which specific characters therefore are True's family?

8. How important are friends in a woman's life? What do Isabelle, Rudy, and Franny give to True? Do you think men have the same kinds of friendships as women?

9. This novel has an interesting structure, with each chapter representing a month. Why do you think the chapters open with sales copy from True's business? Are the months themselves, and what happens in each, symbolic, significant, or ironic?

10. Fate does indeed have a place in this book. What do you think about the fortune-telling episode? What do you think brings two people together: random chance or something else? Is there a divine plan for each of us