Thursday, March 15, 2012

Literary Ladies: Her Mother's Hope

Bonnie, Sandy, and Ashley

Last fall, my friend Becky and I were excited to begin a women's book club at our congregation. Both of us enjoy reading to an absurdly enormous degree - and many of our friends do, too...and there were always the usual conversations among book lovers...exclamations over books that the others *need* to read!! And questions of what one should read next. And so, well-loved books traveled from household to household and back again. It was already an unofficial book club, really.

Becky and I have a blogging friend - Melissa, over at A Little Loveliness, and we got to spend some time with her last summer. One of the things we quizzed her about was the ladies book club at her own congregation. Her book club posts had inspired many conversations beginning, "Oh, we really need to start that book club!" (And then, sadly, going no farther.) She graciously answered all of our questions and encouraged us to begin. And so we did. And there was much excitement in the land. Besides the fun that a book club brings, we also are thrilled that it encourages fellowship with Christian ladies of all ages and also it can serve as an outreach tool. We love when any of our members invites a friend from the community!

As the slacker blogger than sometimes I am, this is only my first post about our own group, the Literary Ladies. (I kind of just love that name - the alliteration, the exact meaning of what we do and who is included. Though we were kind of tickled that Becky's grandfather responded to the first Facebook event that he could not come. So cute.) But Becky has posted about the previous two meetings, so I invite you to visit her blog to see how it all began...(P.S. Becky has also started another book club for her daughter and her friends. You can see posts about that on her blog also!)

At our latest meeting on March 1st, we discussed the book Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers. We had about 17 ladies in attendance (sadly, Becky couldn't come to this one because of a bout with strep throat). Even though many of us were up in arms about the actions of a certain Marta toward her daughter Hildemara, I knew that the book was now on almost everyone's well-loved list for one simple reason: the majority of the members had sought out the sequel, Her Daughter's Dream, and had already read it also.

In deep discussion...probably about grandchildren??

Trina and Dani

Visiting before the meeting began

Pretending to be all candid...

In keeping with a color scheme from the book, my friends Jen, Ashli, and Ashley helped decorate the tables with blue and yellow plates and napkins. We arranged daffodils in mason jars for the center of each table, which was really very perfect for our spring meeting. Also on each table, we placed some ceramic birds and a birds' nest and a yellow teacup, all of which symbolized different themes from the book. To complete the look, Ashley had brought handfuls of wonderful black and white pictures of her mother and grandmother, and she scattered those on the table also.

Since the book took place in various countries, we had quite a bit of freedom with what foods the ladies might bring to share. And if someone didn't have a specific Swiss/English/Canadian/American dish (!) they wanted to bring, they were asked to bring a dish that their mother or grandmother had taught them to make. My decorating committee had made little blue, yellow, black, and white tags for people to write the name of the dish and its significance to display on the food tables. Ladies also brought recipes to share, as one of the main characters had kept a journal of foods that other people had taught her to cook.

After we ate, we sang a few songs, and then one of our elder's wives gave a very good devotional to tie in with Her Mother's Hope. Since Becky was sick, Ashley stepped in to lead the book discussion, which was pretty lively. I guess there's just something about this type of family saga that inspires passionate commentary. ;)

We also discussed having some mini-meetings between our big, three-months-apart ones. We might start meeting here and there to have dessert, coffee, and book conversation. We also talked about the Literary Ladies assisting our congregation's Haiti book drive since we all support the value of books, obviously.

Before we adjourned, I announced the next Literary Ladies' "assignment" - A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander. I have actually not read this book yet, but Becky highly recommended it. The author attended Harding University in Arkansas and actually went to school with one of the members of our congregation. I very much look forward to reading it because it takes place in Nashville, Tennessee and the Belmont Mansion figures prominently into the story. Becky did a little scouting and found out that the mansion is having a special 195th birthday party on March 17th in honor of the lady of the house, Adelicia Acklen, who was real - and also a character in our book. There will be all sorts of fun and games and food and free self-guided tours of the mansion. So...the Literary Ladies will be taking their first field trip! The grandest thing, though, is that Becky wrote Tamera Alexander, the author of A Lasting Impression, and told her what we were doing...and she said she'd meet us at the mansion that day! How fun is that?? Well, verrrry. =)

Are you in a book club? Do you have any recommendations for us to read and discuss??

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