For reasons too complex (read: boring) to explain, I had four different book groups to attend on the calendar in a three week stretch. Don't worry, I fully recognize that such behavior is completely crazy. Still, I have a rather inflated sense of my own importance at these types of activities, and didn't feel like there was any one I could reasonably put off/postpone/cancel. Besides, the scheduling of the groups was entirely accidental--one moved up, one pushed back, one just meeting temporarily.
How could I say no?
We are talking about discussing books, after all. And not just any books--three of the four were pretty darn good. The fourth, well, let's just say that it was fine, but I didn't feel like it was really worthy of making it on to a book group list along side titles like "Cry, the Beloved Country."
One of the groups was just a one-time thing. Desmama and I met years ago in Houston through a mutual friend at a book group. In a stroke of best luck, she and I ended up moving to Utah at the same time. We started a book group there, but everyone in the charter group, except Desmama, has since moved. Desmama expanded the group to others and kept it going. She invited me to join them for their discussion of "Jane Eyre" in July.
I drooled at the suggestion of the opportunity, and looked forward to it as a major highlight of my trip. I was not disappointed.
Our discussion was lively and interesting. I reviewed Jane Eyre a couple of years ago here, so I won't go into that, but we did have a discussion of Gothic literature elements, which I really loved. Usually when I think of Gothic literature, I think of vampires, but the truth is, the genre is much broader than that. Modern fantasy literature owes a lot to the Gothic tradition as well.
As I researched a bit about Gothic literature elements, I was surprised to peruse the list of elements and realize that I've actually been reading quite a lot of Gothic literature over the last few months--quite by accident. I also recently finished "Northanger Abbey," a spoof on the whole genre which was growing in alarming popularity during Austen's early career. The Gothic elements in Harry Potter abound. Actually, the place that many of the elements are surprisingly absent is in the Twilight books. (One of the reasons they can be considered unique--Meyer guts a lot of the traditional elements from the vampire genre.)
The women at Desmama's book group were so intelligent and friendly. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them, and share a girls' night out with them. The wonderful woman who hosted has five sons and a husband out of town with the Boy Scouts all week. I was so impressed with the cheerful way she opened her home to us, despite having had a very long and difficult day.
Perhaps the strangest part was meeting people, and then having Desmama introduce me by my blognym as well. There were a few who had a dawning appear on their face when she said "Scienceteachermommy." That was very weird, and I had to think again about that strange blurring between public and private life. That is a post I still think I will write one day, if I come to any conclusions.
If being known by my blognym was the oddest, however, it was also the best. Em, whom I've never met before (and won't link here, she's private), gave me the biggest hug, greeting my like a long, lost sister instead of a total stranger. She is prettier in person than even her gorgeous pictures and she is even more beautiful on the inside.
All around, it is probably the nicest girls' night out I've had in a very long time. Thanks ladies!