Sunday, October 28, 2012

this one time, at book club...

The author came.  How cool is that?  The last book we read for book club was "The Chaperone" by Laura Moriarty.  She is a Lawrence, Kansas resident and professor at KU.  A social worker turned novelist.  Her fourth novel and bound to be the most popular one.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and had an even greater appreciation for it after hearing about her journey through writing, editing and touring with this novel.

Here is what Good Reads has to say about it:
"The New York Times bestseller and the USA Today #1 Hot Fiction Pick for the summer, The Chaperone is a captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922 and the summer that would change them both.

Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.

For Cora, the city holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the core of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in this strange and bustling place she embarks on a mission of her own. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s,’30s, and beyond—from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers,  and the onset of the Great Depression to the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women—Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone illustrates how rapidly everything, from fashion and hemlines to values and attitudes, was changing at this time and what a vast difference it all made for Louise Brooks, Cora Carlisle, and others like them."
But, let me talk about how cool our wine book club is.  My sister, a bookworm since five years old, started it over two years ago and it has been going strong ever since.  It consists of my sister, our mom, two of our high school teachers (we've known them most of our lives), and a college friend of my mom's.  Yes, that's two 20-somethings and four retired teachers.  One half of the book club consists of two English teachers and one English major with a Masters in Library Science (my sister) while the other half consists of a health teacher, P.E. teacher, and a physical therapist. It's like the English nerds versus the science nerds.  Book worms versus the jocks.  Okay, not really, but it's fun to think of it that way.  This month it was at Phyllis's house.

Her and her husband Louis Copt, a famous artist in Kansas and beyond, live outside of Lawrence in an amazing house equipped with his art studio, a wood-burning pizza oven, and a chicken coop.  (Phyllis blogs about that here.)


Couldn't you spend all day in this studio?  Especially with that view. 


Don't you want to frolic in those rolling hills?  And who said Kansas was flat?


I've never been an avid reader like my sister, but now that I'm done with physical therapy school and actually have time to enjoy books, I'm thankful for our book club.  It gets me to read all different kinds of books, consistently.  Sometimes we decide our next book by people bringing their ideas and then decide as a group which one we'll read.  Sometimes we decide on a theme and then pick our own book.  One example was "guilty pleasure" - books that we would be embarrassed to check out at the library, like goofy sci-fi novels, young adult fantasy, etc.  And just so you know, this was before "Fifty Shades of Grey". 

We take turns hosting and try out different recipes on each other.  When we read the book "So Much For That" by Lionel Shriver, I hosted the crew.  Since the book was about cancer, I decided that the menu for the evening would be anti-oxidant foods.  I served white bean and roasted eggplant hummus, fruit kabobs with berries, veggies with roasted red pepper dip, and other yummy things.  Phyllis had an amazing spread at this book club. 

Sometimes we talk about the book for ten minutes and other times for two hours like we did last month when we read "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn.  Occasionally most of the time we get distracted by the food, wine, and good conversation and the book takes the back seat... which is okay because we enjoy each others company so much!

When we read "The Help" a couple years ago, before there was talk about a movie, we gave ourselves an assignment to "cast the characters like it was a movie".  The best part of that assignment?  Some book clubbers were spot on with their casting!

This latest book club was very special.  Laura Moriarty was such a pleasure.  How often do you get to interview the author at your book club?  We found out that she got inspired to write this book when she was at Borders in Lawrence (R.I.P.) looking at a wall of books about 1920s flappers.  She saw one about Louise Brooks and thought, "I could go somewhere with this".  When she writes her novels, she's typically on her couch with her laptop.  She even mentioned that Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern is interested in making this book a movie, casting herself as Cora. 

Book club is my favorite extra curricular activity - it's an excuse to hang out with my mom, sister, and long-time friends once a month.  It's an excuse to keep my no-more-studying! brain active.  And most importantly, it's an excuse to drink wine on a Monday night.  Cheers.

1 comment :

  1. How fun! And as a former Lawrence resident myself, I may just have to pick up that book myself.

    I love those paintings! Does she sell/feature them anywhere in Lawrence?


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