1. Lucy and Marva’s relationship gets off to a rocky start, and Lucy initially finds her new employer both intimidating and crass. In what ways did Lucy’s view of Marva change throughout the course of the novel? What were some of the turning points in their relationship? What was the most important one?
2. How do you think Marva’s hoarding tendencies developed? Do you believe she truly intended to clear out her house? Why now?
3. Lucy admits she initially refused to grasp the severity of her son’s drug problems. Why do you think that is?
4. Compare Marva and Lucy as mothers. Are they as different as they appear on the surface? What scares Lucy about Will’s relationship to Marva, and how does that affect Lucy’s approach to dealing with Ash?
5. When discussing how her house burned down years ago with Fillippe still in it, Marva states: “He always did have a flair for the dramatic.” Do you think Fillippe purposely set the fire? How did this event influence Marva’s future? Was it still realistic that she keep her promise to him?
6. Daniel and Lucy’s quest to rescue Grimm’s Fairy Tales from the storage warehouse is a rare screwball comedy moment for the otherwise serious Lucy. Is there anything you’d go to such lengths to rescue?
7. At the beginning of the novel, Lucy has sacrificed her home and virtually all of her belongings to send Ash to rehab. How did you feel when Lucy finds out Ash has checked himself out of the facility? Did you agree with her actions that followed? Would you have done anything differently if you were in Lucy’s position?
8. Lucy comes close to selling her cherished car, but at the last minute changes her mind, saying that it’s the idea of the car and how it makes her feel that is difficult to let go. Do you think Lucy’s refusal to sell her car is justified? Do you think that an object’s importance is related to the feeling that a person associates with the object, rather than the object itself? What is such an object in your life?
9. At the end of the book Marva is painting over her most famous painting, “Woman Freshly Tossed.” She says she is “giving it a second life.” Were you surprised by her actions? Do you think she did the right thing?
10. Lucy may be the organizing expert, but it soon becomes clear both of these women have something to teach the other. Other than how to de-clutter her home, what did Marva ultimately learn from Lucy? And were you surprised by what Lucy learned from Marva?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
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