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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions


1. Sicily’s rugged landscape plays a central role in the novel. How do you think various characters --- such as Lucia, Franco, Alfredo and Gaetano --- were shaped by their surroundings? In what way does the landscape serve as a metaphor for the often brutal conditions of life in Sicily in the 1800s?

2. There is a wide range of marital relationships in LOYALTY. How would you compare and contrast the marriages of Mafalda and Turi, Roberto and Bruna, Gaetano and Maria? Do any of these marital dynamics shed light on the others?

3. What do you think was the biggest turning point for Franco in his journey toward becoming a mafioso? Was there a crucial scene that, if it had progressed slightly differently, could have changed his path? Did you sympathize with him at any point? If so, did you stop sympathizing with him as the novel progressed? Is he a hero or a villain?

4. Why do you think the novel is titled LOYALTY? What role does loyalty play in the lives of each of the main characters, and how effectively does it govern their actions? Which characters are more loyal than others? Which are less loyal? How does loyalty in the context of a domestic family relate to loyalty as it is expected within a Mafia family? Is loyalty different from blind faith, and when does it become pernicious?

5. The lives of Franco, Lucia, Gaetano, Alfredo and Dante have separate starts in this novel, but over time they intertwine and inform one another. Which meetings between characters do you think were the most important? How do you think these characters would have developed if they had never come into contact with one another?

6. Gaetano leads a double life for much of this novel, torn between his duty to justice and his duty to his family. Which types of duty clash most in your daily life, and how do you navigate your priorities? Do you agree with the way Gaetano navigated his own conflict?

7. If you read the Author’s Note, you learned that many scenes in the novel were based on real-life settings. Which of these locations would you most want to visit, and why?

8. Lisa Scottoline’s Fiorvanti family is fictional, but the origins of the Mafia are depicted accurately in this book, reflecting “legal, social, political, and even agricultural factors,” as mentioned in the Author’s Note. How did the depictions of the rise of the Mafia in LOYALTY affect your understanding of that criminal organization? How did 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?

9. As a former lawyer, Scottoline is interested in exploring in all her novels where the law comes into conflict with justice and how law can even thwart justice, which seems paradoxical. Where did you see law and justice conflicting in this book, and what did you think of the various characters’ decisions when they were forced to choose between one or the other?

10. Franco vows to buy Violetta’s erbanetti every month for the rest of his life, and does so. What does this tell you about him? What have been the longest-standing promises in your life, and what do they mean to you? What kind of sacrifices do they take to maintain?

11. The novel spans many years, most notably with a 15-year break in the middle. How did the main characters --- Franco, Lucia, Dante, Alfredo and Gaetano --- change during this time? Did any of them change in ways you didn’t expect?

12. The book closes by stating that the most precious of all things is “a loving family.” To what extent did the central characters in LOYALTY have loving families? How might their development have been altered if they had had different families? What did you think about how they created their families?

13. The novel ends on a happy scene, with the birth of Lucia and Dante’s baby. But in the previous chapter, we learn that the Mafia in Sicily has only just begun its reign. What do you think will happen to each of the novel’s remaining central characters after the book ends? How do you think the Mafia will continue to affect their lives, and how can love forge hope in troubled times?

by Lisa Scottoline