This past week I spent time with four wonderful women. Although we'd never met face-to-face, two of them--Jane Smiley (Private Life) and Eileen Goudge (Once in a Blue Moon) readily agreed to join me for a fundraiser for the Kitsap Regional Library System in Washington state's Puget Sound.
The other two--Joshilyn Jackson, who wrote Backseat Saints' and Tatjana Soli, author of The Lotus Eaters--I'd met only once. I was so moved by the eloquence with which they read from their books that I asked them to join us, too.
Everyone came with warm smiles and open hearts.
I think that those in attendance will agree that it was a magical evening. Much of that we owe to our hosts: the library's foundation board and its director Peter Raffa, as well as the event's coordinator, Robbie Wright, and our bookseller sponsor, Suzanne Droppert of Liberty Bay Books.
Imagine being in a room with one of the most prolific and revered authors in the world (that would be Jane) and finding out that she is easy going as well as wickedly funny (sometimes at your expense: I fell for her telling me that my zipper had been open all night.) Her prose sucks you in like a heated jacuzzi, her characters bubbling up through a frenetic dysfunctionality of one very American couple that spans many decades and many deaths.
Or as my husband, Martin, whispered to Tatjana Soli: "Heck, she killed off three characters in a five-minute reading--and you're the one who wrote a book about Vietnam."
Tatjana's read--tremulous, mesmerizing--brings the tragedy of that war to life. Your first inclination is to presume that she is as serious as the complex topic of this heralded debut novel. I was happy to discover she has a lighthearted giggle, a love of tango and a husband--Gaylord--who is a delightful free spirit.
Joshilyn Jackson disarms even the most tentative audience with a sweetness that rivals the pitchers of iced tea found on the highly polished supper tables of many Southern hostesses. It is a joy to hear her bring to life her heroine, the damaged but redeemable Rose Mae Lolly. Her passions are many: her children, her loving husband, her support for independent booksellers, and her faith. Martin fell in love with her wit and warmth. I think he'd have followed her home, if he could!
Eileen Goudge is the epitome of grace. She spins a great yarn, and is just as warm offstage as she she is on it. I was lucky enough to spend some one-on-one time with her, and I can honestly say that I've never laughed so hard. She's living a wonderful life. I can see why her stories are populated with such great characters.
For a peek at this magical evening, click onto the video, below.
Lots of reasons to smile,
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"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading." --Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives
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