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Book Discussion Questions
The novel Spare Change addresses a number of issues and covers a time span of over fifty years, which of the following would you consider this book – Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery, Women’s Fiction or Inspirational Fiction?
The story takes place in the first half of the twentieth century, do think it was possible back then to successfully have both a career and a family?
Have you ever known a woman who like Olivia, felt that having children would be a detriment to the other aspects of her life?
Olivia had a lot of foolish superstitions; do you have any superstitions that you know are foolish?
After Charlie’s death, did you suspect the okra soup Canasta gave Olivia actually had a magical quality that brought about happiness?
When Olivia returned to live in Charlie’s apartment the residents felt that she was responsible for his death and they shunned her—do you think there was something she might have said or done to convince them otherwise? In a similar circumstance do you think you’d be more forgiving or do you think it’s human nature to resent the interloper?
Ethan Allen’s mother Susanna was a lot like Olivia in that she had aspirations of a career and she did not want children – did they differ only in education and refinement or could you see other distinctions?
Susanna’s husband Benjamin knew she wanted to be a singer when he asked her to marry him – was he at fault for thinking he could change her or was she to blame for thinking he’d be her ticket to New York?
Susanna and Ethan Allen had a rather strange relationship; it was not parental but did you believe it to be loving relationship?
When Susanna finally decided to take Ethan Allen and go to New York without Benjamin, was she justified in making that decision?
When Benjamin used her money to buy a new tractor, was he justified in doing so? How do you think you’d react if without prior discussion your spouse withdrew your savings and bought something he wanted/needed?
Ethan Allen was not your typical innocent child—he manipulated people to get the things he wanted—was it excusable because of his home life? Did you see the parallel in how his parents manipulated each other in their attempts to get what they wanted?
The gas station owner Tom Behrens helped Ethan Allen get to Wyattsville, do you think he was in his mind righting the wrongs of his own childhood?
When Ethan Allen arrived at Olivia’s why do you think he was reluctant to tell the truth of what he’d seen?
Did you think Detective Jack Mahoney was simply trying to close a case or had a genuine concern for Ethan Allen?
Did you feel Sam Cobb got involved as he did because he was trying to garner a departmental promotion or because he was trying to protect his father? If you were in the position of knowing your parent or sibling had committed a crime would you tell the truth to investigators?
What about Emma Cobb, should she have hidden the bloody shirt and what did you see as her alternatives?
Although Olivia never wanted children, she allowed Ethan Allen to stay—what did you see as her reason for doing so? Did you feel that it was because she had also experienced the feeling of being alone and friendless?
After Scooter Cobb was killed, Olivia told the police that she shot Scooter but allowed Ethan Allen to believe that he had done it. Did you see this as a kindness to the boy because he could believe that he’d saved someone he cared about whereas with his parents he’d been unable to do anything?
The final chapter takes place in Heaven, would you have written it differently?
Spare Change Food and Drink
Charlie and Olivia celebrate their marriage with champagne.
Enjoy local artisan beer
Fresh Orange Juice
Lightly smack each orange on the counter. Cut each one in half. Squeeze into a glass. You may also use a citrus reamer to do this. If you want less pulp, use a hand juicer with a strainer.
Charlie and Olivia drank Burgundy Wine while on their Honeymoon in Florida