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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Crazy Ladies

1. On the first page, Miss Gussie states, "There is so much good in a garden, if you don't count what happened to Adam and Eve." How does this statement serve as a foreshadowing of events to come and as a metaphor for the story as a whole? Why does West choose to begin and end the novel in Miss Gussie's garden?

2. What is the significance of Miss Gussie's act of murder in the first chapter? Why would West choose to open the story with this scene?

3. Both Dorothy and Clancy Jane have self-destructive tendencies that lead each to the brink of suicide. Why? What in their shared experience could lead to this behavior?

4. West uses multiple narrators to unfold the story in Crazy Ladies. What advantages are gained by this? How does the perspective of each of the six women affect your experience of the story? Do multiple narrators help to temper your judgments toward a character?

5. Clancy Jane is the most free-spirited character, and her life is filled with experiences that none of the other women ever share or understand. How does her character serve to expand the range and depth of the novel? What could her experiences teach the other women?

6. One of the dominant themes of Crazy Ladies is that of the single mother. How well do Clancy Jane, Dorothy, and Bitsy handle their issues of abandonment and the challenges of raising their children alone. What is West saying about the fortitude of women?

7. By the end of the novel, Queenie has become the most stable and secure characters. Were you surprised by this? Was there any foreshadowing of this in the novel's beginning?

Crazy Ladies
by Michael Lee West

  • Publication Date: June 28, 2005
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060977744
  • ISBN-13: 9780060977740