Book Club Questions for Madame Mirabou’s School of Love

Readers have told me repeatedly that they like to have some questions in hand for book clubs.  These are the questions from the Cherry Forums discussion (which continues until Sept 30 if you wish to join in). 

Caution–some minor spoilers might be here.

1. Divorce is very common in American society, and yet it is still often the most traumatic thing that happens in an adult life.  In Crazy Time, Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, Abigail Trafford cites statistics that show the dangers of becoming a divorce “flameout:” alcoholism, hectic sex, or an inability to engage or maintain intimacy.  Learning to navigate those dangerous waters becomes very important.  Nikki and Roxanne present two ways of managing the delicate post-divorce period, and they have different results to show for it.

What did the two characters do differently? Was everything Nikki did the right thing? Were all of Roxanne’s actions self-destructive, or were there times different choices could have taken her in a different direction?

2.Nikki’s business and perfume journal are called Scent of Hours, and she makes perfumes to celebrate the moments of a life.  It’s human nature to want to concentrate only on the moments and memories in our lives that are positive, but often we learn more in the dark times than in the bright ones.  Do you think Nikki became a stronger, wiser person by undergoing the divorce?  Or would she have been happier, long-term, with her marriage?

3. Nikki is re-entering the dating world after more than twenty years with the same man. Sometimes, it’s a little awkward.    How did you feel about her first sexual experience, with Wolf?  Were you embarrassed for her? Repulsed? Understanding?  What about the first intimacy with Niraj?  Were you appalled, disappointed, or did you understand?

4. Nikki’s marriage is interracial.  How much a part did race play in the disintegration of the marriage?  Do you think there are extra pressures on interracial marriages, or are those pressures easing?  How did you feel about her conflicts regarding her daughter?

5. The original working title of this book was Scent of Hours.  A second author choice was Madame Mirabou’s Emporium of the Senses.   Would one of those titles have made more sense for this book?  How much does a title influence your choice to pick up a book? And how much does it shape your expectations?

6. A sense of place is often a marker of Barbara Samuel’s work, and Madame Mirabou is set specifically in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, where Samuel is native.  Can you tell how the author felt about the setting?  How does the setting contribute to the story?  Does having the mountains make a difference to the characters? What about a large military population?   Could this book be moved to a different place and remain the same?

7. Did you like the book?  Why or why not?