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Young Ruby experiences a shocking event when she is six years old. This trauma leaves her with lasting scars. Do you believe incidents from our childhood live on long into our adult years and how have you coped with your own less-than-happy childhood memories?
Eleanor marries Orlando Montague after only knowing him for six weeks. Do you think it is possible to trust an instinct formed in the instant? What, if any, consequences have there been in your life for the hastily-made choices of youth?
Eleanor decides not to tell Orlando about the cataclysmic event of her childhood, knowing that it is a mistake to withhold the information even as she does it. Have you ever found yourself having missed the moment for admitting something and finding it increasingly more difficult to tell the truth later?
Much of Eleanor’s life is “curated” by her, almost like a stage set. The English chintz curtains, the Italian wine, particular dishes, and foods, and clothing that belonged to her mother are all part of the world that Eleanor creates. How do you find yourself curating your own world to make it one that you like to inhabit?
Eleanor forms an unlikely bond with Dottie, her much older neighbor. Do you have any cross-generational friends and how have they enriched your life beyond what it would have been had you only had same-age friends?
By the end of the book, you see that things are not what they seem. Were you able to go back—much like in the movie, The Sixth Sense—and follow the breadcrumb trail after the truth has been revealed to you to add up the clues you may have missed?
Reader's Guide for Finding Mrs. Ford
One of the central themes of Finding Mrs. Ford is the question of a woman’s identity. Do you believe that our identities are fixed throughout our lives or do you think that we might be different people under different circumstances? Have you observed this phenomenon in yourself or someone you know? Or, do you believe that a person’s core essence always percolates up to the surface no matter what life brings to them?
Susan and Annie are very different types of women. An archetype I played with was Susan-as-Melanie and Annie-as-Scarlett, referencing the two main female characters from the book (and movie), Gone With the Wind. Annie, like Scarlett, is a survivor. She is a woman who operates with a high degree of self-interest and self-preservation. Susan, like Melanie, is more self-effacing, willing to take a back-seat to her friend, and more thoughtful of others. Alpha girl versus beta girl. Do you find yourself liking one of these women more than the other? Do you identify with one more than the other? Do you think you are one type but secretly wish you could try out being the other? And, finally, do you think all women have a little bit of both types inside of them?
Finding Mrs. Ford deals with many varieties of romantic love. Annie loves Frankie—or thinks she does—while Susan believes her friend is succumbing to obsession and raw passion. Young Susan feels a gentle love growing for Sammy, though she hardly knows a thing about him. In later years, Mrs. Ford finds lasting and deep love with her husband, Jack Ford, Sr. Do you think that we are able to love more than one person in our lives? And do you think that we are able to love different people in different ways? Do you think that if one love ends, that that love is diminished—or even erased—in retrospect? Or, do you think that—even if it is over—it lives on somewhere inside of us?
Mrs. Ford reinvents her life after something has happened in her past that she evidently wishes to keep buried. Do you believe that we have the option to recreate our realities—to recreate ourselves? Is there a cosmic re-set button? If we do enough work to better ourselves and learn from past mistakes, can we, in fact, have a second (third? fourth?) chance at happiness? Or, do you think—as William Faulkner said—that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past?” And, are these concepts mutually exclusive?
Hope. Both Annie and Susan experience that most uplifting of feelings—hope—though it manifests differently in each of them. As a young woman, Susan hopes to get out of Detroit, to go back to Paris, to have a relationship with Sammy. Annie’s hopes are a little more close to home and close to the present moment. She hopes to go out with Frankie on a given night, to get away from her stepfather, she even hopes that Susan will teach her a little French. How vital do you think that hope is to a human existence? How has hope played a part in your life—both from its presence and, perhaps, from periods of its absence? Do you believe that hope comes from an active spiritual or religious faith, or do you think we can lead a hopeful existence that is founded in another area of our lives?