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Objects of My Affection: A Novel
by Jill Smolinski

Published: 2012-05-01
Hardcover : 320 pages
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In the humorous, heartfelt new novel by the author of The Next Thing on My List, a personal organizer must somehow convince a reclusive artist to give up her hoarding ways and let go of the stuff she’s hung on to for decades.

Lucy Bloom is broke, freshly dumped by her boyfriend, and ...

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Introduction

In the humorous, heartfelt new novel by the author of The Next Thing on My List, a personal organizer must somehow convince a reclusive artist to give up her hoarding ways and let go of the stuff she’s hung on to for decades.

Lucy Bloom is broke, freshly dumped by her boyfriend, and forced to sell her house to send her nineteen-year-old son to drug rehab. Although she’s lost it all, she’s determined to start over. So when she’s offered a high-paying gig helping clear the clutter from the home of reclusive and eccentric painter Marva Meier Rios, Lucy grabs it. Armed with the organizing expertise she gained while writing her book, Things Are Not People, and fueled by a burning desire to get her life back on track, Lucy rolls up her sleeves to take on the mess that fills every room of Marva’s huge home. Lucy soon learns that the real challenge may be taking on Marva, who seems to love the objects in her home too much to let go of any of them.

While trying to stay on course toward a strict deadline—and with an ex-boyfriend back in the picture, a new romance on the scene, and her son’s rehab not going as planned—Lucy discovers that Marva isn’t just hoarding, she is also hiding a big secret. The two form an unlikely bond, as each learns from the other that there are those things in life we keep, those we need to let go—but it’s not always easy to know the difference.

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Excerpt

I remind myself as I enter the coffee shop that it’s actually a good thing I sold my house and, for that matter, almost everything in it. Sure, some may find my situation pitiful—a thirty-nine-year-old woman reduced to sharing a bedroom with her best friend’s preschooler daughter. But for purposes of this particular job interview—I pause to look around to see if anyone is looking around for me—it makes me even more of an expert. Will Meier is going to be downright impressed that the woman he’s thinking of hiring to clear out his mother’s home barely has a possession left of her own. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

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. 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?

6. 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?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Does your reading group have OBJECTS OF MY AFFECTION or THE NEXT THING ON MY LIST on its list?

I'd be happy to “join you” at your meeting, either by answering a few questions by e-mail or scheduling a 20-minute conference by speakerphone. I’ve actually been part of a reading group myself for 15 years—and while we boast that we’re possibly the worst book club in the world (we’ve had entire meetings that have consisted of, “I liked it,” “Me, too,” “Is there any more wine?”)—more often the discussion leads us to sharing ideas and reflecting on what we’ve read in a light we might not have otherwise considered.

Please email me at jillsmolinski@earthlink.net so we can set up a mutually convenient time. In your email, let me know how long your group has been meeting, number of members, the city and state where you’re located, a preferred date and time (if you have one) and any other information you think might be pertinent. I look forward to talking with you!

Reviews

"A moving look at the dangers of holding on to both objects and one’s misconceptions, Smolinski’s third novel will draw readers in through her flawed but sympathetic characters." —Booklist

"A charmingly breezy tone marks this warm appraisal of our addiction to stuff." —Kirkus Reviews

"Simultaneously breezy yet thought provoking, this is a fun read that stays with you." —Sarah Pekkanen, author of These Girls

"Reading Jill Smolinski feels like hanging out with a charming, savvy, fun-filled new friend." —Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs

"I loved this deeply felt, bravely honest tale of a professional organizer who discovers just how messy life and love can be, but that everything truly does have a place. A treasure of a novel." —Melissa Senate, author of The Love Goddess' Cooking School

"Funny, poignant, and achingly smart, Objects of My Affection will win the hearts of loyal fans and new readers everywhere. Jill Smolinski's writing is smart, funny, and true with fully realized characters that readers will come to love." —Mia King, author of Good Things and Sweet Life

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