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Black Olives

A Novel

About The Book

I turn my head and stare up at the roof of the truck cab. He has no idea I'm here, and I don't know where he's going.

Upon a chance sighting of her ex-boyfriend, Virginia does something most of us have only dreamed of. Unseen, she jumps into the back of his Jeep, and remains hidden all day, observing the man she once loved. She's compelled to complete her unfinished portrait of their breakup, and relive the magical thinking of their romance.

I knew him by heart for ten years and he me, Vir-ginia reflects. And now, only nine months later, I know nothing at all.

The novel unfolds over the course of one day, ping-ponging between Virginia's fear of discovery and the illicit thrill of "breaking and entering" into the life of her former lover.

Will she finally confront him, as she's longed to do since they parted? Will she slink away in defeat? Any woman who has ever lived and loved will find herself swept up in Virginia's mesmerizing journey.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions
1. Could you identify with Virginia's obsession with David, the man who broke up with her?
2. In the story, Virginia hides in David's Jeep and then goes through his house, "investigating" her former lover. Have you ever been tempted to conduct a stealth investigation of an ex-lover?
3. Traditionally, popular fiction has relegated sex and romance to the young. Do you think people change their attitudes about sex as they age? Do they become wiser, or are they still vulnerable to the bewilderment of desire?
4. Virginia wasn't always happy with David, but she repeatedly says that he made her feel safe. Is that a primary reason that women stay in unfulfilling relationships? What other factors could there be?
5. Virginia wanted to keep the passion in their relationship alive by insisting that she and David live in separate houses and maintain separate lives. Can you imagine having a relationship like that? Is marriage more attractive to older men than to woman who have already been married and have well-established lives?
6. David, Virginia's lover of ten years, broke up with her on New Year's Eve by telling her that he'd been having an affair for the past few months. How would you react in her situation?
7. How does a midlife breakup compare to a breakup at twenty-five or thirty?
8. How did you feel about the novel's ending? What would you have done if you were Virginia, and David did wake up?
9. What advice would you give to Virginia?
10. What advice would you give to David?

About The Author

Photo Credit:

Martha Tod Dudman is the author of Expecting to Fly and Augusta, Gone, which was adapted into an award-winning Lifetime Television movie. She lives in Maine.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 3, 2011)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416549611

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