Sometimes writing a novel has unexpected advantages, like dinner with my sister-in-law Mickey Murray’s book group, hosted by member Karen Freedman. Dinner on the terrace was transcendent, the eggplant parmesan and incredible view of Central Park rivaled only by the deep discussion brought about by the group’s insightful questions about Lilac Girls.
Is there a better way to spend an evening than with smart, funny women who love to talk about books?
After over ten years researching and writing Lilac Girls, in a solitary state, it’s been so much fun to get out and meet readers. But my first book club visit yesterday took connecting with readers to a fabulous new level. Our host Debby Fleischer (far right) made it all happen. She contacted me when the book first debuted and invited me to her Atlanta home for the book club.
The first sign it was going to be a memorable day was the delicious nalynsky club member Laura Liszczak Cleary brought, which she prepared from a recipe often made by her Polish family. I’d had delicious Polish food when I was researching in Lublin and Warsaw but these light, little fruit-filled mini pancakes were just heavenly.
The book conversation was incredible and several of the members shared fascinating family WWII stories. Everyone had read the book, so we didn’t have to be mindful of spoilers and the time flew by. I was there to impart Lilac Girls wisdom but ended up learning so much from the group members.
Before I left, Laura pressed a velvet pouch into my hands. “I had to give you this,” she said, “for writing this book.”
In the pouch was a family heirloom, a tiny cedar pillow a family member had hand-stitched, the cedar insert crafted long ago from flowered sheeting. The card: “With deepest gratitude for sharing our story.” I’ll always cherish it. What a lovely (but teary!) way to end an incredibly memorable first Lilac Girls book group visit.