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July 9, 2008

Mary Kay Andrews: Summer Reading

Posted by carol
Today Mary Kay Andrews shares her dual perspective as both an author and a book club member. Her novels include Savannah Blues, Savannah Breeze and, most recently, Deep Dish, which chef Paula Deen deemed "one delicious read."

My book club here in Atlanta takes an informal hiatus in the summer --- so many of us are off on vacations, traveling for business, or just plain busy --- that we substitute an occasional lunch or informal meeting for drinks for our regularly scheduled meetings.

But my Ohio book club --- The Goddesses --- keep right on reading and meeting. Like lots of book clubs I've visited over the years, the Goddesses know how to keep things fun --- even when the reading is heavy. For instance, in June, they read Sue Miller's The Senator's Wife. In the spirit of this campaign year, the Goddesses are doing a lot of political reading. The hostess for this month's meeting sent out e-vites cheekily worded as though they were coming from Republican presidential candidate John McCain's wife, Cindy. Get it --- The Senator's Wife? Members were asked to come to the meeting dressed as their favorite Senator's wife. By all reports, the meeting was a big hit.

One of my own readers emailed me that her book club was reading Savannah Breeze for their summer meeting, and that she'd managed to scrounge up lots of Mary Kay cosmetic samples to give away in goodie bags to members --- so they'd remember the author...Mary Kay Andrews. (Absolutely no relation to the cosmetic queen.)

Years ago, when Savannah Blues first came out, I was invited to join a book club discussion. Because my protagonist, Weezie Foley, is an antique dealer, all the members were asked to bring their own vintage treasure along with a story of how it was acquired, so we could stage our own mini Antiques Road Show. All the food for the party was blue --- including frozen blue margaritas which the hostess ruefully dubbed "Tidy-Bowl-Ritas" because of their unfortunate resemblance to a popular household cleaner, blue corn chips and blueberry muffins. All the cold drinks for the meeting were iced down in an inexpensive inflatable child's wading pool. I still want to steal that idea for a party.

The Ohio Goddesses seem to compete with each other for fun themed meetings. I remember the summer we read The Secret Life of Bees, everybody met at an apiary (a bee farm) to learn about bee-keeping and to sample honey-sweetened goodies. When we read Seabiscuit, the hostess for that month's meeting rented a van and transported all the members to a nearby horse-racing track. Members ate a sack lunch that the hostess prepared in advance, and everybody was given $2 to place their own bets. I hate that I missed that meeting!

The first time I hosted the Goddesses, my choice was Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. My friend Barb actually provided the location and refreshments since I live in Atlanta. But I came up with the table centerpiece --- several Tiffany blue gift boxes and a Breakfast at Tiffany's trivia quiz. The winner was awarded a $50 Tiffany's gift certificate, which came in its own trademark blue box with white ribbons.

How about your book club? Do you take the summer off? Meet at beach houses or mountain cottages? Do you switch to lighter beach books, or do you tackle more serious fare over the summer?

---Mary Kay Andrews