Dreaming Sophia weaves together many strands of Italian culture, language, and art. It also touches on ideas about creativity, fantasy, and reality. It is a story about recovery and rejoicing and trying to balance the fine line between fact and fantasy. Ultimately it delivers a message that despite rough beginnings, dreams do become reality.
Here is a set of discussion points to facilitate discussion of the book’s message.
1. Sophia Loren figures prominently in the book. What is La Loren’s role in the story, and what does she represent? What is she a metaphor for?
2. “Dreams become reality” is the premise of the book. What does this mean to you? How does one turn a dream into reality?
3. The gifts Sophia receives are unusual. Who gives them to her, and what does each one represent?
4. In your opinion, when does Sophia arrive in Italy? When does she arrive “mentally” in Italy? When does she arrive “physically” in Italy?
5. Learning to walk the fine line between dreaming and reality is another major theme in the book. How is the book structured to express this idea? Consider what happens in the story’s first half, as opposed to the latter half.
6. Sophia’s parents are very important role models. To walk the line between dreams and reality, which side of the line do they walk? How do they balance each other?
7. During her journey, Sophia receives gifts and advice. The first gift is a ring. Who gives it to her, and what does it signify?
8. Eleonora de’ Medici figures prominently in the story. Who was Eleonora de’ Medici, and what do she and her dress represent for Sophia?
9. When Sophia first meets Eleonora de’ Medici, why do they not recognize each other at first?
10. The metaphor of a circle is used throughout the story. How, where, and why?
11. The imagery of birds and flight is used throughout the story of Dreaming Story. What do birds signify, and where do they appear in the story?
12. As Sophia transitions from grief to joy, what are several key marking points of her recovery? There is a crucial, pivotal point. What is it? When does it occur? What is the significance?
13. The book is divided into sections according to periods in Art History. How do they correlate to the various stages of Sophia’s journey?
14. Dreaming Sophia is the story of a woman recovering from grief and learning to love again. It is also about art and where creative ideas come from. According to Leonardo, Michelangelo, Vasari, and Brunelleschi, where do artistic ideas come from? What happens to them once they are received by an artist?
15. What is Lorenzo de’ Medici’s role in the book? What is he a metaphor for? What do Prince Lorenzo de’ Medici and Lorenzo, the 21st-century man, have in common?
16. There are several artistic rivalries depicted in the book. Who did they involve? What is the underlying message about artistic differences? Is there one right or wrong way to go about creating art?
17. What is the “private” language in the book? With whom does Sophia speak this private language?
18. After Sophia and Lorenzo meet, what are some signs of their compatibility?
19. Why does Sophia call her mother’s box of Italy treasures “Pandora’s Box”? Why does she reject it? What is another “box” she rejects? At the end of the book, how does she view the box, and what lessons has she learned?
20. The story begins and ends in a golden valley. What are some of the parallels, as well as differences, between her childhood home in California and the life she creates in Italy?