Riveting, tender, and utterly real, Sweet Ruin is a gripping story about one woman's search for passion amid the challenges of ordinary life and a triumph of contemporary fiction from a writer known for her candor and wisdom.
Reading Group Guide
by Cathi Hanauer
Elayna Leopold Slade seems to have the perfect life -- a comfortable home in the suburbs, a successful and loving husband, Paul, and a beautiful seven-year old daughter, Hazel. But Elayna's life is not at all as simple and happy as it appears. Two years ago, Elayna gave birth to a darling boy, Oliver, who died due to heart trouble within days of his birth, plunging Elayna into a deep depression that is just beginning to lift. As Elayna heals from her crippling sadness, she relishes her return to the full life that she had neglected since Oliver's death.
Elayna's mood -- sexual and otherwise -- is further buoyed when she meets an attractive, artsy twenty-something neighbor, Kevin. As her flirtation with Kevin edges towards more, Elayna turns to her best friend Celeste for support and advice. Meanwhile, Elayna works to rebuild her relationship with her father, Devon, a New York City fashion photographer who left her mother when she was young. Devon's desire to establish a close bond with Hazel leads Elayna to allow him into Hazel's life, a decision that may ultimately put Hazel in danger. Will Elayna's emergence out of her depression threaten the stability of both her marriage and her morality?
Questions and Topics for Discussion
- Sweet Ruin is written in the first person, with Elayna as the narrator. Ho