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May 27, 2008

Laura Dave's Book Club Inspiration

Posted by carol
In today's post, Laura Dave reveals how reading groups played an important part in the creation of a character in her second novel, The Divorce Party, which was recently published by Viking Penguin. Laura lives in New York City and is also the author of London is the Best City in America.

Since my first novel, London is the Best City in America, was released in the spring of 2006, I have rarely gone a week when I haven't spoken to a book club: book clubs from My Space, from a temple or a church or a library, book clubs grown out of other book clubs, book clubs full of people as diverse and surprising as the ways they have come to find me, and to find my books.

When I first began speaking with book clubs, I was warned that it could end up taking up a considerable amount of time, time that I needed to utilize to finish my next book (or, more accurately, time I should be utilizing to finish my second book, but would probably have spent watching The Wire on DVD). But, once I started talking with book clubs, I discovered how much I enjoyed it. We never just talk about my book, but talk about...well...everything. Love and dreams and family and disappointment. Money. Children and the future. Death. Some of these conversations have been the most enlightening (and hilarious) of my life. What these book clubs have taught me has expanded my world, and made it richer.

One of the things that has been the most remarkable to me about speaking with book clubs is gleaning so much wisdom from women of all generations about the many roads they have taken. I have been inspired by so many of the book club members I have spoken with, but maybe none more so than the older members --- women in their 70s and 80s (and 90s!) who are all still full of life, and who have taught me one of the best lessons I've ever learned: If we are lucky, over time, we get better at being ourselves.

My new book, The Divorce Party, focuses on two women on a summer weekend in glamorous Montuak, New York, who find themselves on the opposite ends of their marriages: Gwyn Huntington is stumbling upon the end of her 35-year marriage, and her future daughter-in-law, Maggie, is trying to navigate the beginning of hers.

In writing this book, I infused Gwyn with the wisdom and strength of the women I have gotten to meet at book clubs across the country. She is funny and open and deeply caring the way they are. She understands the importance of family and commitment the way they do. I hope they love her as much as I love her because, much of her goodness, they can thank themselves for.

---Laura Dave