Don’t Sing at the Table: Reading Group Discussion Questions

.1. Adriana wrote that she was able to write Don’t Sing at the Table
because her grandmothers “never threw anything away – clothing, bank
records, contracts, wills, newspaper clippings, photographs.” What did
your grandmothers pass down to you? What can those items tell you
about the way they lived their lives?

2. Adriana wrote of Lucia, “No one ever in the course of my entire life
was ever as happy to see me as she was. Looking back now, I realize
that you only ever need one person who lights up that way when you
enter a room. One person is all it takes to give a kid confidence.” Who
was that person for you?

3. Is craftsmanship valued as much today as it was in Viola and Lucia’s
time? What has changed?

4. Adriana recalled “Venetian eggs” – poached eggs in homemade
tomato sauce with fresh dandelion – as one of her favorite meals Viola
made her. What are some of your favorite meals your grandmothers
made you?

5. In what ways were Viola and Lucia different? In what ways were
they similar? Do you recognize aspects of your own grandmothers in
them? Do you recognize aspects of yourself?

6. Adriana and her sisters still wear Viola’s coats. Do you wear any of
your grandmothers’ clothing or jewelry? What did they teach you about
style and beauty?

7. Adriana wrote, “Our family stories have it all: risk, adventure,
romance and intrigue. The places my grandmothers came from
were described in stories they told.” What is a favorite story your
grandmother told?

8. Lucy and Viola only met once. Though “they held one another at a
respectful distance, there was an underlying camaraderie”. What was
the relationship between your grandmothers?

9. Which “life lessons” described in Don’t Sing at the Table do you value
most? Did your grandmothers pass down any of the same advice to

10. What are your rules for living? Do you share any with Viola and


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