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Book Club Questions for Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline

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Book club discussion questions for Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline explore the intricate themes of loyalty, justice, and ambition in a thrilling historical fiction set in the rugged and dramatic island of Sicily.

Loyalty introduces readers to a cast of unforgettable characters whose lives intersect in unexpected and dramatic ways. From Franco Fiorvanti, a lemon grower determined to prove his loyalty to a baron, to Gaetano Catalano, an idealistic lawyer who is a member of the Beati Paoli, a secret society of aristocrats investigating crime in Palermo, this novel weaves together multiple storylines in a thrilling and unpredictable narrative.

Set in Sicily, Loyalty is a story of love, loyalty, and betrayal, as well as a journey through the rich history of this Mediterranean island. With its intriguing plot and memorable characters, Loyalty is a must-read for book clubs looking for their next great discussion.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most thought-provoking book club discussion questions for Loyalty. From ethical dilemmas to complex character motivations, there’s plenty to unpack in this richly layered novel.

We’ll delve into the central themes of the book, examine the historical context, and analyze the characters’ choices and actions. Whether you’re a seasoned book club member or just starting out, these questions will stimulate conversation and spark new ideas. As someone who typically leans towards contemporary fiction, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.

So, if you haven’t already, grab a copy of Loyalty, gather your book club, and get ready to dive deep into this captivating story. With these discussion questions as your guide, you’re sure to have a fascinating and rewarding conversation about Lisa Scottoline’s gripping novel.

The Synopsis

Loyalty can save a soul—or destroy one.

Franco Fiorvanti is a handsome lemon grower toiling on the estate of a baron. He dreams of owning his own grove, but the rigid class system of Sicily thwarts his ambition. Determined to secure a better future, Franco will do anything to prove his loyalty to the baron. But when the baron asks him to kidnap a little boy named Dante, Franco makes a decision that will change his life—and even the history of Sicily—forever.

Gaetano Catalano is an idealistic young lawyer whose devotion to justice is tantamount to a calling. He’s a member of the Beati Paoli, a real-life secret society of aristocrats who investigate crime in Palermo, a city riddled with graft. Gaetano sets out to find the boy and punish the kidnapper, but his mission leads him to a darker place than he had ever imagined.

Meanwhile, Mafalda Pancari is a new mother rejoicing at the birth of her daughter, Lucia, when disaster strikes. And Alfredo D’Antonio is a reclusive goatherd under constant threat of being discovered as a Jew. How the lives of these unforgettable characters collide makes Loyalty an epic tale of good versus evil, as the story twists and turns to its monumental showdown.

Readers will be transported to the dramatic and ruggedly beautiful island of Sicily, the jewel of the Mediterranean, where lush lemon groves and mouth-watering cuisine contrast with a turbulent history of colonization and corruption.

Scottoline brings her decades of thriller writing to historical fiction, creating in Loyalty a singular novel that no reader will be able to put down.

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Book Club Questions for Loyalty

I hope you and your book club will enjoy my discussion reading guide for Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline ✨

  1. Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline is set in the rugged landscape of Sicily, where the characters’ lives are shaped by their surroundings. Discuss how the environment affects the development of Lucia, Franco, Alfredo, and Gaetano. How does the landscape serve as a metaphor for the harsh conditions of life in Sicily during the 1800s? Do you think the characters’ experiences would have been different if the story was set in a different location?
  2. The novel Loyalty weaves together the separate lives of Franco, Lucia, Gaetano, Alfredo, and Dante. Discuss the most important meetings between these characters and how they influence each other’s development. How do you think these characters would have evolved if they had never met?
  3. Many scenes in Loyalty are based on real-life locations in Sicily. If you read the Author’s Note, which of these locations would you most like to visit, and why?
  4. Loyalty is the title of the novel, and the concept of loyalty plays a significant role in the story. Explore how loyalty influences the decisions and actions of each main character. Which characters are more loyal than others, and how do they demonstrate their loyalty? How does loyalty within a domestic family differ from loyalty within a Mafia family? When does loyalty become pernicious?
  5. The novel Loyalty explores a variety of marital relationships, including Mafalda and Turi, Roberto and Bruna, and Gaetano and Maria. Analyze and compare these marriages. How do they provide insight into each other? What themes about relationships, power dynamics, and love emerge from these marriages?
  6. Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline explores the theme of conflict between law and justice. The novel presents situations where the characters have to choose between these two and face the consequences of their decisions. In what ways do you think the law hindered justice in the book? Which characters made the best decisions in such situations, and why? Were there any characters whose decisions surprised you, and how did you react to them?
  7. Franco’s promise to buy Violetta’s erbanetti every month for the rest of his life is a testament to his unwavering loyalty and commitment. What do you think this gesture says about his character, and how does it contribute to his development throughout the novel? Have you ever made a similar long-standing promise in your life, and if so, what did it mean to you? How much sacrifice did it take to fulfill that promise?
  8. Loyalty spans over several years, with a significant time gap in the middle. During this time, the main characters undergo various transformations and changes. How do you think Franco, Lucia, Dante, Alfredo, and Gaetano evolved during this time? Were there any unexpected changes in their personalities or behavior? How did these changes affect the overall story’s plot and themes?
  9. The novel’s closing message suggests that the most valuable thing in life is a loving family. How do you think the main characters in Loyalty fared in this regard? Did any of them have loving families, and how did it affect their development and choices? How do you think their lives would have been different if they had different families? Moreover, how did the characters’ personal values and beliefs shape their family dynamics?
  10. Loyalty delves into the origins of the Mafia in Sicily. How do you think the novel portrays the reasons why the Mafia came to exist, and how did the class system of Sicily contribute to the rise of organized crime?
  11. The book features multiple storylines, with each character having a unique voice and story. Which storyline did you find the most compelling and why?
  12. The title of the book is “Loyalty.” How does the concept of loyalty play out in the book, and do you think loyalty is portrayed as a positive or negative trait?
  13. Mafalda Pancari is one of the characters whose storyline is followed in Loyalty. How does her story intersect with the other characters, and what do you think her role represents in the larger narrative of the novel?
  14. The Beati Paoli is a real-life secret society of aristocrats who investigate crime in Palermo. How does the author use this society to explore themes of justice and corruption?
  15. Dante is kidnapped at a young age and grows up in a madhouse without knowing his true identity. How does his story represent the larger themes of identity and belonging in the novel?
  16. Franco’s journey towards becoming a mafioso is a central theme in Loyalty. Discuss the turning points in Franco’s transformation and the crucial scenes that shaped his path. Did you sympathize with Franco at any point in the novel? Did your opinion of him change as the story progressed? Is Franco a hero or a villain?
  17. Gaetano struggles with the conflict between his commitment to justice and his loyalty to his family. Reflect on the types of duty that clash in your daily life and how you balance your priorities. Do you agree with Gaetano’s approach to managing his conflict?
  18. Lisa Scottoline’s Fiorvanti family is fictional, but the origins of the Mafia depicted in Loyalty are historically accurate. Analyze the depictions of the rise of the Mafia in the novel and how they affect your understanding of the criminal organization. How does it change your perspective on more current depictions of the Mafia in popular culture, such as in The Godfather movies? What did you learn that most surprised you about the Mafia’s origins and history?
  19. The novel features a diverse cast of characters, including characters from different social classes and religions. How does the author use these characters to explore themes of identity, belonging, and discrimination?
  20. The novel has been described as a thriller, but it also explores themes of love, loyalty, and family. How does the author balance the thriller aspects of the story with the emotional depth of the characters?
  21. Loyalty is Lisa Scottoline’s first historical fiction novel. How do you think she handles the transition from writing thrillers to writing historical fiction, and what aspects of her writing style are particularly effective in this novel?
  22. The novel ends on a happy note, with the birth of Lucia and Dante’s child. However, the previous chapter reveals that the Mafia’s influence in Sicily is still rampant. What do you think will happen to the remaining central characters after the book’s end? How will the Mafia continue to impact their lives, and what measures can they take to protect themselves and their families? In what ways do you think love and loyalty can help individuals overcome challenges in times of turmoil?

Selected Reviews for Loyalty

“A powerful, poignant exploration about the rise of the Mafia in Sicily, Lisa Scottoline’s Loyalty is a gripping, compulsively readable tale of courage, loyalty, family secrets, and the price of honor.  An unputdownable piece of historical fiction that puts Scottoline’s talent for writing twisty plots and unforgettable characters on full display.” —Kristin Hannah

“Tautly plotted, brimming with detail, Loyalty takes us through the streets of 19th-century Sicily to witness the birth of the modern Mafia. Scottoline fills her tale with a richly varied cast, gathering them into a web of intrigue as the book races towards its heart-stopping finish. A delight!” —Helene Wecker

“Scottoline brings her characters to life, instilling them with wit and intellect as they navigate the corruption of Sicily’s law enforcement. Historical crime fiction fans will be riveted.” Publishers Weekly

Additional Recommendations

Hope you enjoyed my book club discussion questions and reading guide for Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline!

Here are some more of my book club recommendations:

Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls

Most folk thought Sallie Kincaid was a nobody who’d amount to nothing. Sallie had other plans.

Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she is just eight years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father’s daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out.

Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. That’s a lot more complicated than Sallie expected, and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger.

You will fall in love with Sallie Kincaid, a feisty and fearless, terrified and damaged young woman who refuses to be corralled.

Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash
beyond that the sea book 1

A sweeping, tenderhearted love story, Beyond That, the Sea by Laura Spence-Ash tells the story of two families living through World War II on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and the shy, irresistible young woman who will call them both her own.

As German bombs fall over London in 1940, working-class parents Millie and Reginald Thompson make an impossible choice: they decide to send their eleven-year-old daughter, Beatrix, to America. There, she’ll live with another family for the duration of the war, where they hope she’ll stay safe.

Scared and angry, feeling lonely and displaced, Bea arrives in Boston to meet the Gregorys. Mr. and Mrs. G, and their sons William and Gerald, fold Bea seamlessly into their world. She becomes part of this lively family, learning their ways and their stories, adjusting to their affluent lifestyle. Bea grows close to both boys, one older and one younger, and fills in the gap between them. Before long, before she even realizes it, life with the Gregorys feels more natural to her than the quiet, spare life with her own parents back in England.

As Bea comes into herself and relaxes into her new life—summers on the coast in Maine, new friends clamoring to hear about life across the sea—the girl she had been begins to fade away, until, abruptly, she is called home to London when the war ends.

Desperate as she is not to leave this life behind, Bea dutifully retraces her trip across the Atlantic back to her new, old world. As she returns to post-war London, the memory of her American family stays with her, never fully letting her go, and always pulling on her heart as she tries to move on and pursue love and a life of her own.

As we follow Bea over time, navigating between her two worlds, Beyond That, the Sea emerges as a beautifully written, absorbing novel, full of grace and heartache, forgiveness and understanding, loss and love.

The Tiffany Girls by Shelley Noble
the tiffany girls book 2

What if you could take a vacation to your past?

It’s 1899, and Manhattan is abuzz. Louis Comfort Tiffany, famous for his stained-glass windows, is planning a unique installation at the Paris World’s Fair, the largest in history. At their fifth-floor studio on Fourth Avenue, the artists of the Women’s Division of the Tiffany Glass Company are already working longer shifts to finish the pieces that Tiffany hopes will prove that he is the world’s finest artist in glass. Known as the “Tiffany Girls,” these women are responsible for much of the design and construction of Tiffany’s extraordinary glassworks, but none receive credit.

Emilie Pascal, daughter of an art forger, has been shunned in Paris art circles after the unmasking of her abusive father. Wanting nothing more than a chance to start a new life, she forges a letter of recommendation in hopes of fulfilling her destiny as an artist in the one place where she will finally be free to live her own life.

Grace Griffith is the best copyist in the studio, spending her days cutting glass into floral borders for Tiffany’s religious stained-glass windows. But none of her coworkers know her secret: she is living a double life as a political cartoonist under the pseudonym of G.L. Griffith—hiding her identity as a woman.

As manager of the women’s division, Clara Driscoll is responsible for keeping everything on schedule and within budget. But in the lead-up to the most important exhibition of her career, not only are her girls becoming increasingly difficult to wrangle, she finds herself obsessed with a new design: a dragonfly lamp that she has no idea will one day become Tiffany’s signature piece.

Brought together by chance, driven by their desire to be artists in one of the only ways acceptable for women in their time, these “Tiffany Girls” will break the glass ceiling of their era and for working women to come. 

Thank you for reading my book club discussion questions and as always, happy reading! ❤️