Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Objects of My Affection

Summary: In the humorous, heartfelt new novel by the author of The Next Thing on My List, a personal organizer must somehow convince a reclusive artist to give up her hoarding ways and let go of the stuff she’s hung on to for decades. 

Lucy Bloom is broke, freshly dumped by her boyfriend, and forced to sell her house to send her nineteen-year-old son to drug rehab. Although she’s lost it all, she’s determined to start over. So when she’s offered a high-paying gig helping clear the clutter from the home of reclusive and eccentric painter Marva Meier Rios, Lucy grabs it. Armed with the organizing expertise she gained while writing her book, Things Are Not People, and fueled by a burning desire to get her life back on track, Lucy rolls up her sleeves to take on the mess that fills every room of Marva’s huge home. Lucy soon learns that the real challenge may be taking on Marva, who seems to love the objects in her home too much to let go of any of them. 

While trying to stay on course toward a strict deadline—and with an ex-boyfriend back in the picture, a new romance on the scene, and her son’s rehab not going as planned—Lucy discovers that Marva isn’t just hoarding, she is also hiding a big secret. The two form an unlikely bond, as each learns from the other that there are those things in life we keep, those we need to let go—but it’s not always easy to know the difference. -- Touchstone

I have heard some pretty awesome things about Jill Smolinski and her novels around the blogosphere, but it wasn't until I read OBJECTS OF MY AFFECTION that I understand what all the fuss was about. OBJECTS OF MY AFFECTION is Ms. Smolinski's latest novel (it goes on sale today), and I thought it was an extremely fun read. With all of the crazy things going on in my life right now, it just hit the spot.

OBJECTS OF MY AFFECTION tells the story of Lucy, a woman who is kind of a rock bottom. She is in dire financial straits after selling her house to pay for her son's stint in rehab, and she recently broke up with her boyfriend. However, Lucy is determined to get her life back on track. She starts by accepting a job to help an eccentric artist organize her possessions, and she dives right into the work. Unfortunately, the artist isn't very cooperative and she doesn't exactly appreciate the help that Lucy is offering.

Through it all, Lucy realizes that her life is full of new challenges -- cleaning up the artist's house before the deadline, convincing her son to get help for his drug problem, discovering an attraction to a new (and younger) man, and reconnecting with her ex. As she works her way through these issues, she manages to form a friendship of sorts with the artist and discover some valuable life lessons along the way.

Initially, I thought OBJECTS OF MY AFFECTION was a chick-lit type book or even a mom-lit one (check out the cover and the description); and I don't think I was entirely wrong with my assumption. The story was cute and the book most certainly wasn't lacking in the humor department. It even had some romance thrown in. In addition, the novel had the typical storyline about a woman who has all sorts of bad things happen to her, and by the end of the novel, she's a much better (and wiser) person. However, describing OBJECTS OF MY AFFECTION this way is almost too simplistic.

I guess what I'm saying is that I ended up being pleasantly surprised by the depth of this novel. Was it cute and funny? Most definitely. But it also had some substance and actually touched upon some serious issues like addiction and our need to hang onto material possessions. I would even go so far as to say that this book left me thinking about a few things in my own life, and it gave me the push I needed to clean out my own clothes closet!

I think one of the main reasons that I enjoyed this story so much was the character of Lucy. She was down-on-her-luck, but she still managed to keep a sense of humor. While I didn't always agree with all of her actions, I still liked her a lot; and I had a feeling that she would come around and realize the error of her ways. I found it satisfying that, by the end of the novel, she had learned so much about herself and was in a better place personally and professionally. I guess I'm just a sucker for a heartwarming story!

OBJECTS OF MY AFFECTION would make a terrific book club pick. I was happy to find a reading guide which touches upon many of the issues that gave me some food-for-thought. Some of the topics you might want to explore include parent/child relationships, friendships, love, acceptance, parenting styles, second chances, initial impressions, secrets, and the need to hold onto "things" vs. the need to let "things" go. There are also some fun suggestions to enhance your meeting such as bringing something you want to get rid of to the meeting or making a "bucket list" of things you want to do before you die.

I enjoyed OBJECTS OF MY AFFECTION a great deal and I recommend it to fans of women's fiction. I think you'll agree that it's a funny read and one that will also touch your heart.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.


Beth Hoffman said...

I have the feeling I'd really like this book! I'm adding it to my list.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds really good! I think I need a lesson about material possessions. Yesterday, I helped Vance gets settled and I thought it would be freeing to only have the amount of stuff he has. I hope that makes sense.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Actually I think a lot of "chick lit" has been adding depth, which I think is a great trend!

Beth F said...

Now this sounds like a perfect weekend read. I could become a chick-lit fan as long as there is greater depth, which this one seems to have.

Shonda said...

I like chick-lit books with more depth. Especially when the cover makes the book appear to be a light, fun read and it ends up being more.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I enjoyed her first novel so this is definitely on my list. I'm thinking of listening to it. Nice review!

Carin Siegfried said...

This book wasn't on my radar but your review makes it sound so great, I think it's going on my TBR list! Thanks!