First of all, is that not the best book club name ever? It stands for Book Lovers of Westchester (New York). Believe me, they have the sense of humor to match their name.
They've been together 18 years, in their own words, “through babies, divorces, death, marriage, and grandchildren.”
They contacted me about a Skype book club. Just in case you don’t know what Skype is, it’s like a “video call” where both parties can see and hear each other. It’s free! And it’s wonderful—it means I can meet with book clubs anywhere, even in other countries. I used to do a lot of speaker phone calls. Skype is better, but it does change things—they can see me after all! I can’t do a Skype call in my jammies or with bed head, for instance. So, after leading my fiction workshop last Wednesday, I rushed home, brushed my hair, set my laptop up in a relatively clean part of my home and called the BLOW Bookclub.
The BLOW women like to pick a theme from their book pick for their menu, and they said The Kindness of Strangers made it easy. They had challah bread, pizza with roasted vegetables, and chocolate-raspberry-caramel frosted cake. They each frosted their own piece of cake and adorned it with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.
Let me just savor that image a moment.
Have I mentioned how much I adore a book club that gets into food? This group is really creative—sometimes the hostess decorates her house according to some theme of the book, and at times they’ve dressed up as the characters. I love it! (Reminds me of my own book club—we humbly call ourselves the Goddesses—and the time we met in the Yellow Springs Cemetery for our discussion of The Lovely Bones).
This was a wonderful discussion. They brought up something no other book club or reader ever has (and this book has been out since 2006)! They commented on the choice of the name Laden for the family, how not only was The Laden Table a great name for Sarah’s catering business, but how each member of the family was laden with a heavy burden. I wanted to jump up and do a little dance! Writers spend soooo much time mulling over names. They’re never arbitrary choices. So I was so grateful to these insightful women for this pat on the back.
The time flew by—we talked for nearly an hour and I enjoyed every bit of it. Skype worked just fine and other than my cat nearly knocking over a vase of flowers on my laptop, all went smoothly.
With the next book, I’ll do my best to take a train from NYC up to meet these fabulous women in person....and there’s plenty of good food in the upcoming novel that maybe they’ll make for me. (Hmm...I see a new motivation to include food in all my future writing!)
The group sent me a photo of them from the night of our chat. And Julia emailed this, which I think sums up beautifully why I love book clubs so much,
“Being that we have been together for 18 years we are so fortunate and grateful to be part of this amazing group of women who love and respect each other. We have had many wonderful experiences together. Thank you for giving us another great experience it put into our memory bank.”