Discussion Questions for “Love Lets Us Down”

1.       The union of Dorissa and Don represents a conventional heterosexual marriage in 1964. Is their version of marriage an anachronism in contemporary America? Or does it remain a living tradition? How have views on marriage changed since 1964?

2.       Why is Duncan, the night supervisor at the Meridian Inn, so cynical about love and marriage? In spite of his cynicism, he is interested in his boss, Marian. What qualities attract him to Marian? Is Duncan a realist or a romantic?

3.       What primary differences exist between men and women, according to Merry Mentweather? How does she view her marriage with Jimmy?

4.       Merry embraces conventional morality and social mores. Is her concern for Cara’s absence justified or excessive? Pick a scene where you might have acted differently than Merry. Why?

5.       Cara Ann Baker is a fifteen-year-old whose behavior might be seen as risky. Does she get what she deserves in the novel? What consequences, if any, does she suffer?

6.       Lena Wentz has traveled to the Meridian Inn to meet her lover, Andy. What expectations does she travel with, and how are those expectations fulfilled or disappointed? Who is let down by love in her story?

7.       During the course of the novel, Monica LeMaire breaks off her engagement with Ivan Peterson. Are her reasons justified, or are romantic illusions preventing her from achieving happiness? Could she and Ivan have had a happy marriage?

8.       Is Gus (Augustus Alvarez, Jr.) a sympathetic character? Why or why not?

9.       Horace Benford has traveled to put flowers on his wife’s grave. What was their marriage like? How does Horace excuse his infidelities? He believes he was a good husband; do you agree or disagree?

10.   The bond between a brother and a sister is often viewed as the purest form of love. How does Marian’s relationship with her brother, Jared, critique the brother/sister dynamic?

11.   Do you recognize any aspects of your own understanding about love and marriage in the relationships depicted in the novel?