Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski
Lucy Bloom gave up everything for her son, Ash. She sold her house, kicked out the man she loved, and spent all her money to send her nineteen-year-old son to drug rehab in Florida. She's sharing a bedroom with her best friend's four-year-old daughter while she tries to get a job. Her best chance is to take a job that no one else seems to be able to handle. As the author of a book on organizing, Things Are Not People, she's hoping to get the job of cleaning out Marva Meier Rios' house. Marva's son, Will, promises her a bonus if she can get his mother's house cleaned in two months. The renowned artist is also a hoarder. Although she herself has given a date of May 15, she is reluctant to part with anything.
Day after day, Lucy finds herself fighting Marva for every piece of clothing and every collectible piece in the house, some to go to auction and some to a yard sale. It seems to be a losing battle until Lucy calls in her ace in the hole, her ex-boyfriend, Daniel, a movie and collectible buff who understands the value, sentimental and monetary, of much of Marva's possessions. Even so, it's an ongoing battle to pry possessions away from her. Lucy's fired and rehired a couple times, until the day she and Daniel learn why Marva has set a date for the goods to be out of her house. Then, it becomes a battle between the two women, each trying to show the other what is important in life, and when it's time to let go.
Smolinski deliberately made Lucy an organizer and Marva a hoarder to show the contrast between them, and the difference in their beliefs and their lives. The war between the two women, and Lucy's attraction to the head of the work crew bring humor to the book. And, it is quite funny at times. However, Objects of My Affection is also a story that digs deep into the emotions and fears both women have. Both women use their obsessions to hide their neediness. And, despite their ongoing battles, Lucy and Marva need each other. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out what's wrong with a pattern of thinking and living. And, sometimes, even an organizer needs to learn when to let go.
Like one of my favorite authors, Barbara O'Neal, Jill Smolinski has a gift for writing about the lives of women. It's in the daily routines, the jobs, the relationships, and conversations and the wit, that both authors bring their characters to life. Objects of My Affection is Smolinski's latest slice of life. Her characters, and her readers, need to take time to appreciate it.
Jill Smolinski's website is www.jillsmolinski.com
Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski. Touchstone. 2012. ISBN 97814511660753 (hardcover), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.