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Sophie Mills has worked her Manolo Blahniks off to reach the top of her profession. She seems to have it all: a glamorous job as a corporate events planner, a designer apartment, and her cat Artemis for company. After all, relationships only get in the way of work, and as for starting a family -- Sophie hasn't even begun to think about that yet. Until one day, an unexpected visitor brings the news that her best friend Carrie is dead, Carrie's husband Louis has disappeared, and Sophie is now in sole charge of two children under the age of seven. But child care can't be all that hard, can it? Sophie soon finds she is woefully underequipped to be suddenly thrown into motherhood. But through the eyes of two little girls she learns more about loss, commitment, and true love than she had ever realized existed. Discussion Questions
1. The Accidental Mother
opens with Sophie in her office, obsessing over Jake Flynn's lunch invitation. What is your first impression of Sophie Mills, based on this beginning? How does she handle her career? What is her approach to romance?
2. Discuss Sophie's relationship with her coworker Eve. Are the two women friends or enemies? Eve tells Sophie, "You didn't choose this career...it chose you." (See page 109.) What does Eve mean? Is she right about Sophie?
3. "There were a lot of things that Sophie was very good at.... She was extremely good at pie charts. But she'd always said that when she discovered her limitations, she'd be happy to admit them. That time had come." (See page 26.) Which of Sophie's personal "limitations" come to light, when Bella and Izzy arrive in her life?
4. When Sophie receives a copy of Dr. Robert's Complete Dog Training and Care Manual
from her mother, she "tossed the book to the floor in disgust." (See page 66.) What unexpectedly handy lessons does Sophie learn from the dog manual? What do you think of this funny statement from Sophie's mother: "That's the trouble with you cat people. No imagination." (See page 66.)
5. The promise "Always, forever, whatever" comes up several times in the novel. What did this promise mean to Sophie and Carrie when they were teenagers? What did it mean for Carrie and her children? What does it mean to Sophie now?
6. Cal tells Sophie, "Taking risks is what life is all about Sophie...I thought you would have known that, wearing that shirt with that lipstick. Right out on a fashion limb." (See page 388.) How does Cal's bold sense of humor inspire Sophie?
7. Sophie's cat Artemis hasn't purred in years, until Bella pets her. Sophie thanks Bella "For making Artemis feel safe and happy." (See page 127.) What does Artemis teach Sophie about taking care of Bella and Izzy?
8. Sophie is fully aware that Jake is "practically perfect." (See page 378.) He's handsome, successful, and very interested in Sophie. So why isn't Sophie interested in Jake?
9. After her father died, Sophie learned from her mother, "you have to practice being happy, even when you're not, because otherwise you might forget how altogether." (See page 248.) How does Sophie help Bella and Izzy practice happiness? How do the girls help Sophie? Do you think Sophie has forgotten how to be happy, since her father's death?
10. What is Sophie's first impression of Louis? How does her opinion of Louis change over the course of the novel? Were you as surprised as Sophie at the real reason why Louis left Carrie? Why or why not?
11. "Carrie made choices decisively and rode them out no matter what happened. Sophie never chose what happened in her life -- she let fate choose for her and never questioned how different things could be." (See page 339.)
Discuss Sophie and Carrie's different approaches to making choices. What are the advantages to Carrie's approach? What are the disadvantages? What does Sophie learn from her friend's example?
12. Sophie feels guilty about her attraction to Louis, as if she were trying to steal Carrie's life. But Cal believes, "If Carrie is up there right now, she's probably shouting at you, 'Go to him, you stupid cow!'" (See page 386.) Do you agree with Cal, that Carrie would be happy for Sophie and Louis? Why or why not?
13. When Bella and Izzy first come home with Sophie, she thinks, "A passion for chocolate and an eye for shoes. Maybe she did have something in common with the girls after all." (See page 47.) Besides a sweet tooth and good fashion sense, what else does Sophie have in common with Bella and Izzy by the end of the novel?
14. The ending of The Accidental Mother is romantic, but also open to interpretation. What do you think the future holds for Sophie, Louis, Bella, and Izzy? What new challenges could they face? Enhance Your Book Club
1. According to Sophie, "shoes were like fashion magnets. The right clothes would simply be drawn to them." (See page 82.) Find a picture of your ideal pair of shoes in a magazine or catalog and bring a copy to your book club meeting to show off your fantasy "fashion magnets!"
2. Sophie, Bella, and Izzy bond over Carrie's favorite song, "Motorcycle Emptiness" by the Manic Street Preachers. Play the song at your book club meeting to set the mood for The Accidental Mother. You can find "Motorcycle Emptiness" on www.itunes.com or pick up Manic Street Preachers' greatest hits album, Forever Delayed
, at your local music store.
3. In the book, Louis worked at a charity for homeless children in Peru. Do some online research to find an organization that helps homeless children in a community you care about -- it can be in your town, or halfway around the world. Bring information to your book club meeting and discuss how your club can volunteer or contribute to a children's charity.