Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman (Aspden)

Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman 
Kathy Aspden, 2016
Blue Shoe Publishing
302 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781533022004

Nothing can be done to take back that tiny millisecond when one soul recognizes another.

Artfully weaving together three lives, three coasts and three generations, Kathy Aspden's breathtaking debut, Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman is a dazzling pastiche of love, deception, acceptance and forgiveness.

When the choices that Teressa, Danny and Gregory make intersect with circumstances out of their control, they must straddle a fine line between what is right and what is unimaginable to live without. What would I do for the sake of a child?

Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman is a deeply moving story about the dynamics of love and loss, and what it takes to survive both. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Kathy Aspden lives with her family on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and is a freelance writer for a of screenplays, including the feature-length films, An Inconvenient Miracle and Only Words. Her movie short, The First of the Month was chosen as an official selection for the 15 Minutes of Fame Festival in Orlando, Florida. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
Kathy Aspen's debut novel, Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman, is written with a quick wit and a sincere heart, weaving a twisting tale of passion, deceit, and redemption. It made me feel the weight of life (or as Milan Kundera put it, the unbearable lightness of being) with all its trade-offs and conflicting desires/emotions/ideals.
Tim Miller - Cape Cod Times

Discussion Questions
1. Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman began as a single question: Is it soul recognition that determines who we love, thereby making human relationships somewhat out of our control? What do you think about this concept?

2. Teressa is the common thread between the main characters in this novel. Do you feel that the principal story is hers?

3. For centuries, and in many cultures, women have looked the other way when it came to infidelity. In this case, it's a man who looks the other way. Other than love and loyalty, what factors allowed him to do so, even before he knew the entire story?

4. Was the glimpse (given through Joseph Costas' eyes) into the three months that Teres and Danny were away enough for you to imagine the conversations leading to the choice they made?

5. The deja vu of history repeating itself throughout the story is a common thread. If you can look back into your own family history, have there been situations and scenarios where you can see a pattern of repetition or, in the case of good fortune, serendipity?

6. "God, I hope no one ever judges me by my worst day or my worst deed," is what Mike Donohoe says when Gregory tells him about his father's crime. It's a powerful statement. How does that apply to the way in which we view mistakes and misjudgments in today's world?

7. Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman is written using interweaving timelines, each in chronological order for its individual character. This allows information to dribble out in a manner chosen to create the most impact on the overall story. Can you recall an example where an incident made more sense to you later in the story, because you became privy to a scene that took place earlier in time? Did you enjoy this style of writing?

8. There are many types of strengths showcased in Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman. Costas sees his mother as a "force to reckon with" and questions why his father treats her "as though she would break at any moment." Teres is accused of thinking of Danny "as a delicate flower" when it comes to his health. Do you see the trading of strengths as a normal part of any relationship? What about between Costas and Julia?

9. There are no accidents. Did reading Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman cause you to rethink the concept of fate and destiny?

10. Teres and Danny's friends play small but important roles in the novel. Ron Watters is particularly vital to the story. Would you have wanted to know more about him? Did his desire to be "solving someone else's problems" rather than "thinking about his own" make you curious all along to know what those problems may have been?

11. Gregory's history evokes a lot of sympathy. Did knowing about his life cause you to vacillate when considering your own desired outcome for the story? What was your desired outcome for the story?

12. Danny and Gregory would appear to be opposites, but in what ways were they similar?

13. Both Teres and Gregory have affluent early lives and then a period of struggle. Danny's life is structured in the opposite, having come from parents who didn't have much. Danny appears to resist an affluent life. Do you think it's more common, or less, for a person to seek the lifestyle they knew in their early years? How do you feel that Danny's ego (or sometimes lack of ego) factored into their success?

14. The role that religion plays for at least two of the main characters is obvious. Although Teres remains particularly devout, it appears that her devotion transfers from religious to spiritual. Do you think she views her Greek Orthodox religion as having failed her or she having failed it? Or is it neither of those things?

15. Even without Julia's persuasion, Costas' need to know the truth is apparent. What do you view as the main question that Costas needs to have answered?

16. Thirteen times the word "miracle" is used in the novel. Only four of those times have nothing to do with the conception of a child. Do you think everyone views birth as a miracle, or is it viewed as more of a miracle when the desire to have a baby is unfulfilled?

17. Gregory admits he is good at "compartmentalizing" in order to achieve his goals. In what ways were the other characters also compartmentalizing their lives?

18. If you haven't already, did reading Baklava, Biscotti, and an Irishman make you wish to visit Italy and Greece?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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