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A Sensible Match Study Guide

Chapter One

Activity--Have each person draw a family picture of the meal at the breakfast table and share what a meal together is like. Have the group members then describe what they see at the table of the Alfords and Chappells to find similarities between them and between our meals today.
Bible verses: Deuteronomy 5:6-21, 10:12-13
1. What changes in a family and between a couple when a marriage is arranged?
2. What does it mean to "honor your parents"? If the commandment means "obey" does that include doing so even as an adult?
3. What defense mechanisms does each person in the Alford family use to cope with the others?
4. What was wrong/right with Abby's decision to "see" Edwin?
Extra from the author--The original draft was only in Abby's viewpoint and started as she raced out to take a peek at Edwin. I found the story stronger to start at breakfast even though many romances don't have their characters eat very much. I think that this change established the humorous tone I wanted right away, kept me from too many flashbacks and was the perfect opportunity (when I was asked to do dual viewpoint) to show Edwin in "the same boat" by mirroring the couple's circumstances.
Fun: An English caraway cake recipe can be found at allrecipes.com
Chapter Two

Activity--List what makes your church special and then categorize the words into person, place or things.
Bible verses: 1 Corinthians 12:27-30
1. How does your background (or the company you keep have) affect your viewpoint of the places/people you visit?
2. What do you think of animals in church?
3. What expectations do you have for a pastor? For the pastor's family?
4.  When do the gifts and personality God's given to the pastor and his family change this?
My 2 cents--The characters are fictional, but the expectations of pastor and spouse are sometimes really there. I actually interviewed a pastor's wife during my marriage counselling to prepare me for what I thought I should be like as a pastor's wife. How foolish was that?
Fun: Pictures of the Cotswold region and examples of building of Cotswold stone can be found at owlpen.com
Chapter Three

Activity--Listen to English country dance music or Celtic dance music (libraries often let you sign out CDs) while someone reads a few paragraphs of the chapter aloud. Discuss the mood and change in the story when you listen to music as you read.
Bible verses: Psalm 141:3-4
1. What occasions do we act unlike ourselves? Why?
2.  How do people overcome shyness? Is it a fault? 
3. Why do you or don't you think Abby's actions were justified?
Extra from the Author--The dance scene was one of my favorites to write and re-read. I loved the idea of leaving Edwin speechless and Abby talking her head off (even if she did so for the wrong reason). Payback for all of us shy people that dream of speaking up for ourselves and never did. The mettle/metal idea came recycled from a poem I published in college and the one line "his was the gift..." was a quote of mine that I've been saving to put in some story, some book someday--it's from seventh grade.
Fun: Examples of country English dance songs can be found at amazon.com
Chapter Four

Activity--Have people pair up and come up with creative introductions of their partner such as a talk show format or commercial.
Bible verses: Proverbs 12:18-22
1. When have you done something that had the opposite result to what you expected or wanted?
2. What are some of our unspoken rules for parties and social events?
3. How do you feel about "white lies"?
My 2 cents--Trying to explain introduction etiquette was quite a challenge. Although Edwin technically shouldn't have introduced his cousin to Abby (the hosting squire or wife would have been better), I needed to have no one else around Abby that might be expected to help her out of an awkward situation.
Fun: Regency terms and their definitions can be found at thenonesuch.com
Chapter Five

Activity--Write a personal journal entry of a visit that changed your life. Share only if you want to do so.
Bible verses: Proverbs 30: 21, 23 and 31:10
1. Is marriage an occupation? Why or why not?
2. What do we get out of visits to each other?
3. How does our faith influence our actions?
Extra from the author--This was a chance to show some flaws in each character and how they did not even recognize them in themselves. The visit was also a chance to put the reluctant couple in a different setting and keep them off balance.
Fun: Some of my research came from Daniel Pool's book, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew. It is also an interesting "read" just to learn more about the era.
Chapter Six

Activity--Have each person list a few charities or charitable actions on slips of paper. Mix them and have every person draw a few out to do before the next meeting.
Bible verses: John 21:15-17
1. What is charity?
2. Can you pick and choose whom you are to show charity? Why or why not?
3. How do you show charity?
My 2 cents--Abby as a part time Good Samaritan is a major theme of the book. Later chapters will explain how I feel this was divine guidance. As you have noticed, many names in the book have significance. Abby's name is of course important. In some ways I regret not calling her "Mary" to poke fun at her attempts to get out of marriage, but I think it's best that I've saved the name for another story.
Fun: More history of the canals of Gloucester can be found at wikipedia.org.
Chapter Seven

Activity--Have the group write poetry about matchmaking, popularity or the perfect date. If this is too intimidating, try a "job description" poster for the perfect pastor and perfect pastor's spouse.
Bible verses: Ecclesiastes 5:3-5
1. It is easier to give or accept charity?
2. When have you accepted charity?
3. How do you feel about dancing?
Extra from the Author--It was good to have Abby face some consequences for her behavior although short lived. Edwin shows he is not so perfect himself, even if he is a soon to be vicar. One of the best things that happened was to have my editor ask me to show Edwin's side of the story. I was able to explain his unusual behavior and give him a chance to see that other matchmaking mamas were waiting for him.
Fun: find out more about sonnets and how to write them at sonnet.org (and be thankful I didn't try any for the book).
Chapter Eight

Activity--Using camera phones or pen/paper, have small groups walk around to do a scavenger hunt for the five most important things in the building or church where you are meeting and then let the groups explain their answers.
Bible verses: 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
1. What qualities do you look for in a church or building?
2. What qualities do you recommend as the most important in a partner?
3. Where and how do we play matchmaker today?
My 2 cents--I really wanted to play with the idea of matchmaker in more than just single people. I thought about how we try to make matches with our churches and neighborhoods too. The little things, the subtle matchmaking is what intrigues me--are we even aware of all the promotional efforts in every part of our life?
Fun: For some pictures of the wildflowers of the British Isles go to floralimages.co.uk
Chapter Nine

Activity--Share with a partner a time when you were worried about what other people would say or think about you.
Bible verses: Romans 15:5-7
1. What do you think Abby feared most?
2. Why do you think Edwin acted as he did at her home?
3. How do our families affect dating/courtship?
Extra from the Author--I really didn't have a chance to bring Abby's parents more into the story without getting sidetracked. Though I had a lot of fun letting Constance run loose, she is not just a foil, she is getting to show her character for the sequel.
Fun: visit Britainexpress.com and click on Cotswold region to see some photo galleries of historic buildings near my story's location such as Buscot Park, Upton and Lacock Abbey.
Chapter Ten

Activity--Buy or make cards to send to someone who has lost a loved one more than a month ago and send it to him/her.
Bible verses: Psalm 116
1. How do an upsetting event change your memories of that whole day?
2. What do you think would have happened if the servant had come a day later?
3. Does God's call change with our circumstances?
My 2 cents--Of course when a couple is getting along something is going to happen to change everything. I debated about several scenarios, but chose the one that would separate them the most quickly. It was hard to "kill off" a character that I liked and could have used in another story, but as the French say, "Such is life".
Fun: Check out newrider.com/Specialisms/Side-saddle/introduction.html Page 1-3 to see what a sidesaddle is and how ladies were expected to ride even in a fox hunt!
Chapter Eleven

Activity--Brainstorm as a group ways that Abby and Edwin could have tried to reach out to the other.
Bible verses: Philippians 2:1-8
1. How does love make someone weak and strong?
2. What does Jack want? Why?
3. What are the major barriers for new couples to overcome?
Extra from the Author--The crossroad scene was important to keep in the story. I felt that even people of faith can be at a cross road, unwilling to show love and be vunerable to pain. The image of the cross is one they do not recognize at first, but is necessary to the development of my story and characters.
Fun: Maps of England to find a few crossroads are at images in google
Chapter Twelve

Activity--Use Jenga blocks to have each member stack pieces while naming a promise they've made for each block. When the stack is built, take turns removing blocks to see how long before it collapses.
Bible verses: Psalm 145:13-14
1. Was Lady Stanway right to ask Abby to promise to help Edwin?
2. What if Abby had told her parents what Lady Stanway said?
3. When should promises be broken?
My 2 cents--Lady Stanway to me is an older version of Abby. She is however, not a happy one. I hope there is so sympathy for her situation, even as her actions make her more like a villain than anything else.
Fun: Daily life--channel4.com/history/microsites/R/regencyhouse/history/daily_life.html
Chapter Thirteen

Activity--Feel like Oprah or Dr. Phil? Have a talk show where members pretend to be characters of A Sensible Match and explain/justify their actions.
Bible verses: Matthew 7:7-12
1. Why did Edwin propose?
2. Do you think Abby made the right decision? Why or why not?
3. How did you expect Abby's parents to react?
Extra from the Author--This was very hard to write because I hate arguments and try to avoid them. It was even more difficult to have my characters lashing out because they didn't know that the misunderstandings and meddling of family made this fight ironic and unnecessary.
Fun: Watch the arguments in at least two versions of Pride and Prejudice movies.
Chapter Fourteen

Activity--Find examples of love and charity in newspapers and magazines, sort them and see if the two categories/words still overlap.
Bible verses: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Read aloud in the King James Version
1. What difference does it make to know love and charity are the same?
2. Is love an action or emotion? What is charity?
3. Can you pick and chose whom you love?
My 2 cents--When I wrote about my Good Samaritan I did not know that the King James version interchangeably used the words love and charity. I really felt God was part of this. The original version had her cringing over the familiar passage "Love is patient and kind..." but how much more it meant to me to use the authentic version that Abby would have read.
Fun: Read some other famous verses in King James to see what difference it makes to the meaning.
Chapter Fifteen

Activity--Use this time to journal about when and why you've played "hide and seek" as an adult and answer whether Abby is still playing it.
Bible verses: Romans 14:1-12
1. How are Constance's actions affecting Abby?
2. Why hasn't Edwin given the church to Jack?
3. Why do you think Lady Stanway let Sarah go back to Midland?
Extra from the Author--I love mysteries and so Edwin's interrogation of his mother (though brief and amateurish) was a joy. I needed Sarah to go back to Midland because the Alfords had no other way to get news and neither did Edwin--something that kept the couple hoping against hope.
Fun: Need to picture what they were wearing? Go to http://hal.ucr.edu/~cathy/reg3.html for a lot of great options.
Chapter Sixteen

Activity--Dramatize what you think will happen next if you haven't read the next chapter. If your group has read it, divide into two opposing groups to debate if Abby was right to continue to accept her situation.
Bible verses: Ecclesiastes 9:1-4
1. Was Abby right to clear the obstacles around the growing shoots?
2. Why do you think Jack persisted?
3. How is Abby handling awkward situations compared to the beginning of the book?
My 2 cents--My research showed that fox hunting took place in the fall, but I couldn't wait too long to get my couple back together. I went ahead and added that the squire was trying a "novel" approach with a spring hunt because spring was symbolically "right" for my story. After all that though, I had a friend from England tell me that they do foxhunts at any time of the year, any time they want!
Fun: Use the preview section of sounddogs.com to listen to "fox hunting" music.

Chapter Seventeen

Activity--As a group choose a way to "rescue" someone--through an act of kindness or just a word of encouragement.
Bible verses: John 15:13-14,16-17
1. How does riding to the rescue take on a whole new meaning?
2. Why did I make Abby chose the hunter?
3. "Better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all"--what do you think?
My 2 cents--I have ridden a horse through the woods at a full gallop. It was terrifying and I thought the horse would actually run into a tree. He did slip and slide though there was fortunately no jumping involved. I brought this experience into the story because I knew how to make Abby feel.
Fun: Put "English hunter" into goggle images to see the kind of horse I had in mind.

Chapter Eighteen

Activity--Write a prayer with your group for your group and do the same with your family for 'homework'. (Fact--did you know Jane Austen wrote some of the prayers read aloud for her pastor father's services?)
Bible verse: Jeremiah 6:16a (NIV)
1. Should Abby (as a Good Samaritan that caused harm) have been held accountable for what happened? Do good intentions negate the responsibilty for outcome?
2. When have you prayed with your family for guidance?
3. What road did they take? (Yes, I gave clues, but you decide.)
My 2 Cents--In the final edit as I went over the book again I opened my Bible to the above verse as part of my devotions. I hadn't remembered reading it, although I must have before.  God has blessed me in so many unexpected ways. I cried when I read it. I was so very grateful that my characters visited the crossroads again for the last and best time. Had the KJV used the exact word "crossroad" I would have put it in there. As it was, I did fit a mention of the passage into the story--if you want to look for it.

Fun: Please write and let me know what you liked (and didn't--I can take it) about this study guide. Thanks so much!!!










Teryl Cartwright 2007

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