THE AWFUL MESS: A LOVE STORY Reader’s Guide

Questions for Discussion

  1. Mary: Love her or hate her? Some readers love  this character, and others consider her pathologically self-involved or too passive or at the very least annoying. What do you think?
  2. Is that a religious conversion at the end?
  3. Was Arthur in even the slightest way justified in his behavior in this book?  What about Sharon? Who’s worse?
  4. What are we to make of nosy neighbor Cici? Why is she even in this book?
  5. Is Mary a character a feminist can approve of, or does she require entirely too much rescuing?
  6. Does Mary really love Winslow?
  7. English majors might have noticed that Arthur has the same first name as Arthur Dimmesdale of The Scarlet Letter, and that the dangerous (ex) husband is a Roger, like Chillingworth. There are also a couple of minor direct references in the book to that novel. In what ways could this book be taken as a response to The Scarlet Letter? In what ways does it depart from it?
  8. One of the author’s interesting surprises when she went to publish this novel was that it would be unwelcome to many readers and writers in the Christian category because it has sympathetic gay characters, not to mention adultery with a priest. Thoughts on this?
  9. Which minor characters are most successful? Which could possibly have used more development?
  10. Is a man who’d rather get married before he gets laid really clinically fascinating? Is he believable?
  11. What does this book seem to want to say about the concept of human dignity?
  12. The author decided to release an adult version and a PG-13 version that took out the explicit sex and crudest language. What do you think of this as an idea as a marketing strategy or a literary decision?
  13. Some Amazon reviewers have bemoaned the disappearance of Bob the cat from large chunks of the book. Did this bother you?

Would you like to suggest other questions for discussion?

Add them below or email the author at (all one word:) sandra hutchison (at) sheer hubris dot com.

3 thoughts on “THE AWFUL MESS: A LOVE STORY Reader’s Guide

    • Good question. Some of these questions are really kind of spoilers, too. I think you can weigh in if you want, but maybe put SPOILER ahead of anything that gives too much away. Mostly I’m looking for good questions I might have missed.

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