This reading group guide for Luck, Love & Lemon Pie includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Introduction
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Sometimes, you have to risk it all to reap the ultimate reward.
Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux is becoming increasingly frustrated with the state of her marriage. But, rather than feel angry with her husband Chris, she is more concerned about why she isn’t that upset by his lack of attention.
In an attempt to make more of an effort in her marriage and reignite their love, MJ picks up Chris’s favorite hobby—poker—so that they can spend more time together. But when MJ discovers that she is quite a talented poker player, her show of good faith only causes more strife. Tumult arises in her marriage when MJ chooses to spend more time on the felt top of the poker table than at home with her family.
After picking up a tournament win, MJ finds herself in Las Vegas where she attracts the attention of poker’s most notorious, and handsome, bad boy. MJ must make the riskiest bet of all—follow her new, exciting lifestyle or go home to her family—and her decision just might cost her everything. Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. At the start of the novel, MJ acknowledges that she and Chris have not been on the same page. Rather than expressing her concerns to her husband, MJ proposes, “It’s easier if I just fix it myself. I just need a plan of attack” (27). Is MJ’s idea irresponsible? Immature? What do you think of her strategy to “fix it”? If you were her, how would you approach the situation?
2. While contemplating her marital issues, MJ asserts, “Perhaps love was like any other habit, practice it enough and it becomes a part of you” (35). Do you agree? Does love need to be practiced, or should it just come naturally? Is a relationship doomed if it requires too much work?
3. Lemon custard pie is a symbol of the love and commitment MJ and Chris share. Do you have a favorite culinary dish that is associated with wonderful memories? How has this dish become so special to you or your family? Why do you think people oftentimes commemorate special moments or celebrations with food?
4. MJ’s family has their own motto—Boudreaux’s Do It Ourselves (B-DIO)—that they recite when they are in need of encouragement or help with decision-making. Do you and your family have your own family motto? What does it mean? Does it continue to influence you today?
5. Communication, or lack thereof, is a major source of contention among the characters in the novel. Discuss the paranoia and distrust that percolates within MJ and Chris’s marriage because they avoid their issues. How could some of their problems been resolved if they had talked about their feelings? How has lack of communication also affected MJ’s relationship with her daughter Kate? Is there someone in your life that you fail to communicate properly with? Why do you think that is? How do you overcome it?
6. Since MJ had an absent father, her mother taught her from a young age about the value of independence. How do you think her mother’s values influenced MJ’s mentality on love? Is her self-reliant approach clouding her ability to reconnect with Chris?
7. Luck, Love & Lemon Pie
offers a wealth of knowledge and insight into the world of poker. Have you ever played poker? What have you learned about the game while reading the novel? Would you risk your odds at the poker table?
8. While playing poker, MJ feels engaged and attentive. She says, “Her body settled into a zone, muffling the ambient sounds to a low hum. She matched her play to the even and controlled breaths she took. If she were a yogi, she might wonder if she’d achieved nirvana. This was bliss” (115). Is MJ romanticizing poker, or do you think she really is that connected to the game? In what ways is poker an escape for her? Can you relate to MJ’s sense of connection to an activity or sport?
9. Discuss Doyle’s motivation in pursuing MJ. Why is he so intrigued by her? Can he be trusted? Does MJ ever cross the line when spending time with him? In what ways is her new friendship with Doyle a coping mechanism for her circumstances at home?
10. Denial, silence, and jealousy plague MJ and Chris’s marriage throughout the novel. Were you sympathetic to their struggles, or do you think the downfall of their marriage is their own fault? Is it normal for such hardships to exist in any long-standing relationship? How can a couple overcome these issues?
11. Jerry shared with MJ that he, too, had marital problems with his wife, but they persevered. He said, “When the love is real, even when you can’t find it under mountains of hurt feelings and shuttered emotions, it’s not really gone. All it takes is finding one new reason to fall in love. Just one, and all the other reasons become clear again” (214). Do you agree? Do MJ and Chris find one new reason to fall in love, or is it too late?
12. Who is Tammie Shezwyski? Given their complicated history, are MJ’s malignant feelings toward her warranted? How does her attitude toward Tammie change by the end of the novel? Like MJ and Tammie, have you ever repaired a relationship with someone you once considered an enemy?
13. The essence of this story is about self-discovery and strengthening romantic bonds. Is it possible to cultivate your own interests while also maintaining a healthy and loving relationship? Or do you risk losing one or the other? What have you learned from MJ and Chris’s experiences? Are they able to find the balance they need for their marriage to survive? Enhance Your Book Club
1. Test your baking skills and make a lemon custard pie. Find a recipe online, try Amy’s recipe on page [[xx]] or try Taste of Home’s
recipe here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/mom-s-lemon-custard-pie.
2. Read Amy Reichert’s first novel The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
for your next book club meeting. The novel follows a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant, and how their chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities. You can even make coconut cake as a special treat for your group!
3. Are you ready to get lucky? Head to a local casino for a night out with your friends, and try your hand at the poker table. Or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, plan a trip to Las Vegas!
4. Explore your own interests and sign up for a dance, art, or baking class. Or pick up a new hobby, like golfing or poker, just like MJ. Try something new—and have fun!