» Discussion Questions
- Rael is presented as a charming man initially, but early in the story, Pat begins to find fault with him. Do you immediately agree with her or do you defend him before you start to see his faults? Do you think the author is looking for reasons to criticize and justify why Rael is “bad”? Or do you think his actions and behavior speak loudly enough and the author does not need to discredit him since he does that for himself?
- Through the first half of the book, Pat is conflicted about her attraction to Rael. What do you see as the underpinning for this clash? Why do you think Pat was unable to end the relationship when Rael told her about his incestuous relationship with his stepdaughter, although she wrestles with that decision in her diary and in her conversations with her friends and therapist? Did you struggle with the decisions Pat made? Did her conundrums remind you of your own struggles or those of friends and family?
- How does Pat’s background, growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, affect her self-image? Do you see the influence of pre-and/or post-feminism and how she deals with her intimate relationships with men?
- Pat says she was addicted to her relationship with Rael. In what ways do you see an addictive quality to their union? How is her addiction for Rael contrary to what one typically considers an addiction? Do you see other compulsions within the context of this book?
- Soon after she separates from Rael, Pat is inspired to start an organization that aids women’s shelters. How does this fit her general personality? Besides the obvious positives that this organization may have for women who are struggling in dysfunctional relationships, who else may benefit?
- Sex confused with love is a theme addressed in this book. In what ways does this show up beyond the relationship between Rael and SJ? What are the dangers associated with this confusion? How can an individual recognize the difference between sexual attraction and genuine love, especially early in a relationship?
- Pat and her stepson, Jacob, have a complicated relationship. On the one hand, she says she does not want to mother a young child again; on the other, she commits herself to him – even though she sees herself making choices that will minimize her relationship with her own children. Would Pat have gone through with the relationship without Jacob as part of the mix? How do Pat’s mothering instincts figure in to her attraction to Rael?
- The author’s childhood is fed to the reader in snippets. From what we learn about her, how do you see her past haunt her current life? How does the family that Pat attempts to create with Rael and Jacob compare to her family of origin? How does the author’s history dictate her actions, both before and after the break-up of her marriage?
- Pat expresses concern for Jacob’s future. He lost his mother at an early age. Then he lost his connection to Pat. Now his father is in prison for a crime that Jacob may not understand. What particular challenges will Jacob face growing up and as an adult?
- Do you identify with Pat’s quest for resolving and/or obliterating the negative core beliefs she developed as a young child? To what extent do childhood experiences shape your adult life?
- What is your reaction to the title Too Much Gold to Flush, the Gift of Infidelity? Does the author live up to her commitment to find the gold in the situation? What truths did you identify with from your own life experiences? What new ideas would you like to incorporate into your day-to-day living? Are there lessons that you gleaned from this story that the author does not discuss?