Bookclubs are an extraordinary community. I have attended them across the province in farmhouses, condos, urban and suburban homes. They are often comprised of woman from all walks of life who have found each other through the love of the written world. Often I discover that the groups have been meeting for years. I am always struck by their openness and familiarity. The questions are always insightful; the stories shared profound. And to watch the ease and laughter of these friendships is always inspiring. These gatherings are as much about books as they are about coming together face to face to share each others’ lives. I imagine these women have sat together through the good times and bad and allowed each other to speak. For one night a month, glasses of wine and good food take them away from the routines of life and fill them with imagined worlds and characters that lead them to discussions and engagements of philosophy, humanity, and pain and joy of life. And then they laugh and recount all that is real. Creating their own narratives, sharing their stories. I love bookclubs. I love that in this world of tweets and facebook and overwhelming speed that these people stop and come together.
My last bookclub this season was in Stillwater, Nova Scotia. A beautiful, handcrafted home in the woods on a lake. I was picked up by Doug, who had been commissioned to be the chauffeur. A rare sighting of a husband, the men tend to relinguish the house when the women arrive. Doug, was a lovely, thoughtful man–a master gardener, a biographer and archivist of the works of A. Hyatt Verrill, an almost forgotten writer from the 1920s–who described himself as not a great thinker or writer, but as an explorer. I arrived and my hostess Gail greeted me with a smile and an embrace. Set out on the table was a Ukrainian feast: pyrogy, borscht, poppy seed cake and all the fixings. A truly unexpected and wonderful gift. Thanks to all the book clubs who have invited me into their lives. It has been an honour meeting you all.