Other People's Houses (Waxman) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. In this book the neighborhood plays an important role. What other situations create this kind of community, and how does seeing people every day change your relationship to them?

 2. The central character, Frances Bloom, is someone who likes to help, because it makes her feel useful. Do you know someone like this? Do you find it easier to help or be helped?

 3. Frances and Michael have a very happy but not very romantic marriage. Do you think that this will eventually drive them apart?

 4. Anne Porter has an affair and nearly destroys her marriage. How important is sexual fidelity? Is it the most important element in a marriage? Can trust be rebuilt after a betrayal of this kind?

 5. How much do children understand their parents’ marriage? How hard is it to maintain privacy in a relationship once you have children?

6. Sara and Iris are experiencing communication problems in their marriage, although it’s very strong. Have you gone through something similar, where communication breaks down for no apparent reason, and then becomes difficult to reopen?

7. Anne felt she was someone else in her affair, that it was something just for her. Ava also mentions a strong desire to be her own person, driving her own choices. How hard is it to balance a sense of self with responsibilities within a family?

8. Frances and Ava are navigating their changing relationship as Ava becomes more independent. Did you struggle against your parents or one parent in particular as you were becoming an adult? How do you think the experience of adolescence has changed since you were a teenager?

9. The title, Other People’s Houses, alludes to the impression one gets of someone just by looking at them. How much can you really tell about someone based on their home, or the way they dress? Is appearance an expression of character, or armor?

10. Bill and Julie Horton are dealing with a challenging time in a very private way. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of approaching it this way?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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