The Real Mrs. Tobias About the Book Praise Discussion Guide

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My own mother-in-law
The Real Mrs. Tobias explores the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship. Here I am with my own mother-in-law, looking great at 98.

One of my own daughters-in-law
One of my own daughters-in-law (with one of my granddaughters).

The Real Mrs. Tobias Discussion Guide

  1. Micah’s accident kickstarts The Real Mrs. Tobias’s action. How might he have responded differently to this event? Do you feel any character gives him good advice?

  2. Who is the better mother-in-law, Veronika or Mel? The better daughter-in-law, Mel or Birdie? Would you suggest that either one modify her behavior? Who do you think is the best mother in the book: Veronika, Mel, Birdie, LuAnne or Joy-Ellen?

  3. Culture clash is an underlying issue in the marriage of Birdie and Micah. Have you observed that this is a common problem? How is it best resolved?

  4. Which relationship do you feel is trickier: mothers and sons or mothers and daughters?

    Does Mel’s relationship with her daughter, Jordan, differ from the one she maintains with her son, Micah? Who seems closer to her daughter, Mel or Luanne?

  5. Is Mel an effective psychotherapist? Why or why not?

  6. Both Mel and Birdie had children at what is currently considered to be a young age in the United States. What do you think are the advantages/disadvantages to early parenthood vs. later parenthood?

  7. The Tobias and Peterson families illustrate different approaches to involvement in the lives of adult children. Which style is closer to your own? Which family strikes you as closer, the Tobias’s or the Petersons?

  8. When Delia suffers injuries from an accident, Norah, her employer, assumes support—financial and emotional–for her care. Do you agree with Norah’s husband and mother-in-law that she oversteps boundaries or do you feel her response is appropriate?

  9. For which family, Tobias or Peterson, does religion strike you as being more central to identity?

  10. In Veronika’s position, would you share a difficult medical diagnosis about your spouse with your spouse?

  11. Mel agrees to meet with Dr. T. What is her motivation?

  12. Do you agree with Mel that it’s preferable for Jordan and her baby to share a biological connection?

  13. Which role do you think women find more rewarding, grandmother or mother?

  14. Which role do you think is the trickiest: being a mother-in-law or a daughter-in-law?

  15. Do you think that expectations for the roles of mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law have changed over time?

  16. In your experience, do you believe that mothers-on-law are unfairly criticized?

  17. Describe the lives of the characters a year after The Real Mrs. Tobias ends.

I love my book clubs. We read mostly fiction, with the occasional memoir or other non-fiction book. Sometimes the books are recent, but often they are classics. Any ideas of books we should read?

Book Club #1
(L. to R. Elizabeth Kadestsky, Alexandra Horowitz, Aryn Kyle, Jennifer Vanderbess, Betsy Carter, me, Patricia Morrisroe)

Book Club #2
Four former magazine editors in this group + a teacher & a law professor
( R. Evelyn Renold, Susan Ungaro, Cathy Cavender, Janet Chan, me, Judith Roth, Patrice Samuels)

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