My Sister’s Book Club — and Me!
One of the best things about attending BlogHer Pro in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago (besides getting to meet BlogHer Executive Editor Julie Ross Godar and my fellow GenFab bloggers Darryle Pollack, Jennifer Comet Wagner, Virginia Sullivan, Cynthia Louden and Anne-Marie Kovacs) was that I got to spend time with my sister, Sheila, who just happens to live in the area.
I love hanging out with my sister, and we did what we usually do – eat, laugh, curse while we drive, comb through the sale rack at Anthropologie, compare reading lists at Barnes and Noble and, of course, talk endlessly.
This time around, though, I got an extra special treat. When I had told Sheila I was coming, she asked if I would mind going to her book group with her since it was meeting on one of the nights I was staying with her. “No, that’s fine,” I said, nonchalantly. Meanwhile, I was jumping up and down inside, thinking, “Yay! Finally!”
Sheila has been talking about her book club for years. I’ve followed along with many of the group’s book choices – as well as the lives of the women themselves. They get together once a month, switching off houses, and December is more of a holiday celebration than a serious book discussion. They read a lighter book and simply enjoy the decorations, food and each other’s company at Bea’s house.
I would be going to Bea’s house! This was almost as exciting as being told I would be going to Australia with Oprah!
My sister informed me, with just a slight hesitation, that the book for December would be The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, Kathleen Flinn’s memoir of attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. “It has recipes in it,” she choked out between bursts of hysterical laughter.
Okay, those of you who know me at all know that the only thing I make for dinner is reservations. I don’t cook. At all. I do, however, like to eat. And I like to read books about food. So I ignored her guffaws and devoured the book (ha!) on my train ride to and from Los Angeles for the This Is 40 press junket, and – overachiever that I am – finished Flinn’s follow-up book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks, which was really more appropriate for me, on my flight to San Francisco.
When we got to Bea’s house, I immediately felt at home. Bea is one of the warmest, funniest and most thoughtful women I have ever met. Her house was so beautifully decorated, it felt cozy and magical, and I could easily have moved in. Because the book takes place in Paris, Bea had placed a couple of small Eiffel Towers on the table and she made a delicious pot of the soup Flinn talks about in the book.
As Sheila’s friends came in, I felt like I had known them forever. There was lots of hugging and laughing, and we settled in around the dining room table, with a fire going, great food and lively conversation.
We all agreed that we enjoyed living vicariously through Flinn as she turned her back on corporate life and went for her dream. Most of us admitted there’s no way we could practice the butchering that made up a significant part of her schooling, but that we could definitely benefit from a few lessons on how to use knives. I nodded along but the truth is I wouldn’t last a day – or, un jour – at Le Cordon Bleu.
Before we left, thoroughly nourished both physically and emotionally, Bea gave all of us – even me! – a cute little 2013 pocket calendar and a handmade bookmark on which she had included all the titles the group read in 2012 as well as a list of everyone’s contact information.
Looking around, I was so grateful that my sister had such an amazing group of women in her life and that they had welcomed me so graciously, even proposing we make this an annual tradition.
Little do they know, I don’t plan on waiting that long. I eavesdropped as the group decided on their next selection – Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. I’ve already read the book and – shhhh – plan on Skyping in to their January meeting to join the conversation.
Thank you (left to right), Martha, Janet, Margo, Avra, Sheila, Bea, Gay Rene and Eva for making me feel so welcome!