Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I cheated and showed a movie at book club

As I make a deliberate effort to simplify my life so that I can make space - both literal and figurative - for the things that are most important to me, I know without hesitation that one activity will never make it to the chopping block...my book club.  As I've mentioned before, I absolutely love to read.  Not long after IronMan and I got married twelve years ago, I asked a couple of coworkers if they would be interested in starting a book club.  As luck would have it, one of them had been asked to join a new group that was to meet the next month for the very first time and she invited me along.  We met that first time at a big box book store to discuss Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.  We have met every month since then for 11 years.  While only a few of us have been in the group for that entire time, we have a good mix of long-timers and newcomers.  We range in age from our mid-20s to 40-somethings.  Some of us are single professionals and others are married stay-at-home mothers (with a variety of other situations in between). In our years of reading and meeting together there have been marriages, divorces, babies, new jobs, and lives full of twists and turns.  This community of women is one that I deeply treasure.

As our book club has matured (like fine wine, that is!), we have settled into a format that seems to work for us.  Each month a different member volunteers to host at their house and whomever is that month's hostess chooses the book.  We have read a tremendously eclectic selection of books over the years.  The last time that I hosted was in January of this year and I chose The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  This is one of my all time favorite books.  Bradley tells the story of the legend of King Arthur and Camelot from the perspective of the women central to the story (in Bradley's retelling it is not surprising to find that "minor" female figures played critical roles from behind the scenes).  This book is quite long and that is part of why I chose to host in January - we don't read a book for our December get together (it is purely social), so I announced this selection in November to give folks two months to read.  But I digress...I tend to do that when talking about books.

When I volunteered to host this month's book club, I decided to select Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I read it many years ago and was just recently reintroduced to it by a dear friend - and fellow book club member - who discovered a passion for the book after seeing Cary Fukunaga's film adaptation in the earlier this year. Luckily for me, because I missed it in the theater, it was released on DVD earlier this month.  I decided to change things up a little bit - summer seems a good time to do so - by incorporating a movie viewing into our evening.  I channeled a bit of my Harry Potter movie viewing geekiness into this get together as well by breaking out some English bone china tea cups and serving nettle tea (a delicious tea I learned about from a British nutritionist), scones, English and Irish cheeses, and an Americanized version of cucumber sandwiches.

English bone china tea cups and saucers collected by my grandmother and great-grandmother 
Two of the four British cheeses served
Wine from my favorite Virginia winery was a must, even if I am completely unable to use the fancy bottle opener (IronMan rolls his eyes in amused exasperation every time I make a mess of it...I've had the better part of a decade to figure this out and I'm just about to give up on it).
Scones...yum!  I "cheated" on these, too, and bought them at Panera instead of baking some.
My two favorite film adaptations of the book - we watched the one on the right (the BBC version on the left is 4 hours long...just a bit much for a week night, don't you think?)
It was wonderful to spend an evening in fellowship with the incredible women who make up my book club and to have the chance to discuss such a strong female character as Jane.  If you haven't read it lately - or at all - I encourage you to make a trip to your local library and pick up a copy today.

Happy Tuesday and - always - happy reading, friends!

"I see genuine contentment in your gait and mien, your eye and face, when you are helping me and pleasing me - work for me, and with me, in, as you characteristically say, 'all that is right:' for if I bid you do what you thought wrong, there would be no light-footed running, no neat-handed alacrity, no lively glance and animated complexion.  My friend would then turn to me, quite and pale, and would say, 'No, sire; that is impossible: I cannot do it, because it is wrong;' and would become immutable as a fixed star.  Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me: yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should transfix me at once."  ~Edward Rochester to Jane Eyre

1 comment:

  1. Reading this totally made me miss my book club that I left in Boston. I started it about 5 years ago, and while it wasn't a true book club (instead of reading the same book and discussing it, ours was a "reading circle" where we all brought books we'd read to make a communal library and share our recommendations; then each woman got to take as many books from the "library" as she chose and bring them back with her review when she was done), it was such a wonderful time for us to share in our love of reading and to introduce each other to new favorites. Maybe once I'm all moved in I'll find a new group to join.

    Oh, and btw--love the teacups! :)