Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Visiting with the Sts. Peter & Paul Book Club
Book club appearances are a wonderful opportunity to spend time with readers and obtain some great feedback. They also spark some fascinating discussions. Last night, I visited the Saints Peter and Paul Book Club in Naperville, all of whom happen to live in the same town as my fictional Bibliophiles. These ladies have been together for a very impressive fifteen years, and I have to say, they are quite a lovely bunch.
It was interesting talking with them about A Whisper to a Scream, because they were all older, mostly of my mother’s generation, and brought a different perspective to the characters of Sarah and Annie. Most were sympathetic for Annie and her infertility issues, but Sarah, the stay-at-home mom, didn’t fare as well.
A good majority were stay-at-home mothers themselves back in the day, many with more than two children, and I got the sense they wanted Sarah to suck it up and go about her business. That was how it was when they had kids, right? Women didn’t have many choices. You got married. You raised the children. The husbands worked. Period. We had a fantastic conversation about the stages of womanhood and the differences between their generation and mine, as well as the changing roles of men in their children’s lives.
Of the two that did work, one said that after reading Whisper she had a better understanding of what stay-at-home mothers do every day even to the point of telling her younger neighbors with multiple children how much she admired them.
They reminded me a lot of my mother to whom Whisper is dedicated. She died several years before it came out, and I wonder now what her response would have been. She was exceedingly competent, my mom. An executive secretary to the vice president of a brokerage company on LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago before I was born, my father always said she was the one with the head for business of the two of them. Yet, she had dreamed of being a stay-at-home mother and became the consummate house manager. She always made me feel special, was in the front row of every performance I did, and made holidays magical.
I love hanging out with women of that generation. They have a soothing sense of calm that my friends and I don’t. Ours is more of a “run this kid there, move this kid here, work is nuts, watch kid’s game” kind of energy, very valid and fun for now, but as I get older, I must confess is becoming a bit much.
One of the oldest women there was eighty (certainly didn’t look it). Her husband had died thirty-five years ago, so she got a part-time job to help pay the bills while raising their eight children. Amazing.
Our wonderful night together ended all too soon, but I left with a strong sense of gratitude, thankful to have been welcomed by such a kind group of women, happy that they enjoyed the book, and blessed that I was able to spend some time with them.
Book club graphic courtesy of Mary Vensel White's blog Shimmer in the Darkness: Thoughts on Writing, Living, and Living with Writing.