A Moveable Feast

Last night was book club night. Oh how I love book club night. It is the most civilized event that I attend regularly, and for a few hours I can almost forget that I have a busy life, a messy house, and a list of things to do. And, while I don’t forget that I have children, I am certainly not thinking about them or attending to them.

It is a night just for me.

The book was Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, chosen by our gracious host G. But the book is almost secondary to the event for me. Last night I was the first one to arrive, and in fact I committed the worst faux pas – I arrived 15 minutes early. It was my first time at G’s house and I had overestimated how long it would take me to get there. This happens to me a lot because I absolutely hate to be late, and so I often arrive places ridiculously early. You may consider yourself warned if you will be inviting me over.

I considered driving around for a while so that I wouldn’t be quite so early, but since it was an unfamiliar neighbourhood, I just decided to go ahead and ring the doorbell. G forgave me when I volunteered to help him in the kitchen preparing some prosciutto-wrapped canteloupe.

G lives in a beautiful and mature neighbourhood in a great part of Ottawa. When I first walked into his house, I felt immediately at home. His house was bright, airy and had a very warm feeling to it. I settled in for a most enjoyable evening.

Others arrived soon after me. Our group is a punctual bunch with few if any stragglers most nights. I fit in with them all right. The format is a pot luck evening, with the host providing the main course, and the guests providing salads, appetizers, desserts, and of course, wine. The food is always varied and creative, and last night everything tasted particularly wonderful to me. We started with appetizers and wine, and the book discussion began. Soon we headed into G’s very lush back garden where the incense kept the bugs at bay and added to the feeling of relaxation. I realize now that I am seldom as relaxed as I am at book club.

The company is comfortable and respectful. People say smart and interesting things, and I always have a better insight into the book afterwards. The discussion moves all over the place, from the book, to the author’s life, to hot tubs and to holidays. There is almost no talk about work or kids or to-do lists.

I am one of the quieter ones at book club, and last night in particular I felt little need to say much at all. I just felt like being still and absorbing it all. When it was time to leave, I felt regret. I walked from the back yard into the beautifully appointed sunroom and longed to go sit in one of the inviting-looking chairs and stay a little longer.

Thank you G, and thank you fellow book club members for a most lovely evening, as always.

About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
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14 Responses to A Moveable Feast

  1. zoom says:

    That sounds like an excellent book club. How many people are in it? How did you find it?

  2. Alision says:

    I think I want to join a book club (I'm in Oakville, W of Toronto, so yours wouldn't be terribly convenient). It sounds sublime. And I read A TON. And my husband just rolls his eyes when I try to discuss my books with him (he reads science fiction and science non-fiction books). Sigh. It should be on my to do list to find one. 🙂

  3. Finola says:

    Zoom, We have about 12 right now but not everyone can make it each week. We get together every 6 weeks or so. I was lucky that a friend and neighbour was already in this book club and she invited me to join about a year ago.

    Alision, Hi! My hubby is hopeless too. I feel so lucky to have found this group and I hope you find one too.

  4. I am reading this – and posting – at 11pm after my book club has just left my house. Another delightful evening. We're not punctual, and we don't eat dinner, but there is always great conversation, snacks and wine and most of all the company of a few like-minded people and a small but welcome respite from daily life. It's worth the late night just for that.

  5. Alison says:

    Lol I read Still Alice a while ago, and cried for a week….which resulted in hubby banning sad books for a while. So I'm reading some light vampirey books (like a bag of chips – not good for you, but you just have to finish!). I have Jeanette Walls' Half Broke Horses on my bedside table waiting for me to be shored up enough to dive in 🙂 I'm totally going to look up a local book club – I've been kicking around the idea for a while.

  6. I used to belong to a book club in Toronto. Your post reminded me how fun it was , and how much I miss it. (how much I miss my friends!) We didn't have dinner but drinks, good snacks and lots of good conversation(like Denise). I was invited to join a group in Ottawa but didn't like it. Everyone tried to sound smarter than the next person…it was very competitive. Lovely post Finola.

  7. Your book club sounds divine. May I join? (Then again I live in the states so it might be a bit of a commute…) 🙂

    It also sounds like you are in a co-ed bookclub: what a rare and delightful situation!

  8. Finola says:

    Denise, Yes, that is it exactly. Please let me know what books you read in yours.

    Alison, I want to read Still Alice too. Have you ever read Infidel? It's brutal but great.

    Laura, Good point and I should have emphasized in my post that people are not trying to outdo each other with how smart they are. They are just a lovely group of people.

    Kristin, Maybe you can join us virtually, but sorry to say there is now a wait list to join because we have become a victim of our own success! And yes, the gentlemen in our group are lovely!

  9. Oh, this post reminded me how much I used to love book club too. I haven't been in one for a couple of years now and this post brought it all back.

    But the unique thing that I really appreciated about your writing is how you were able to share with me what a more quiet person experiences at a group event. My sister-in-law is a very quiet person and a sometimes I wonder what she is feeling at get-togethers. Your post reminded me that just because someone is quiet doesn't mean they're not having a good time.

  10. We just read Committed. We've also recently done Shantaram, Secret Daughter, How It Ends, Friday Night Knitting Club. Some months we just have a theme. Memorable discussions were Still Alice, Kite Runner, Eat Pray Love, Red Tent.

    We are not a “smart” book club (though I think we're all smart) but a group of girlfriends who use the books like a loom through which we weave our own personal stories, depending on what the theme of the book meant to us. I love Book Club nights.

  11. XUP says:

    Okay, all you Ottawa book club wannabees…why don't we form our own book club?? Eh? Fun or what? Come on Zoom, Julie, Finola, Mindful Merchant…whaddya think??? In other news, I have a love/hate relationship with Hemingway which makes his work a perfect book club choice — lots to debate.

  12. Finola says:

    Julie, Interesting for me to hear that people are wondering about us quiet ones. Sometimes I wonder if I'm noticed, so it's great to hear that I am 🙂

    Denise, Thanks, let's keep updating each other with book lists!

    Xup, Very interesting idea. I would be in if we want to get one together. And I completely agree with you about Hemingway.

  13. I have a bookclub, too, and I love it. Though it's all women. I commend you for having a coed bookclub! It seems that so many are just women nowadays. (But guess what? My small group of like-minded women gives me much-needed girl time, so my husband, and their husbands, as of right now, are not allowed!)

    I am also often late rather than early. You are in the minority, for sure! (Good for you.)

    By the way, what did you think of the book? I enjoyed A Moveable Feast a lot.

  14. Finola says:

    Jane, Even though my book club is co-ed, my Hubby is not allowed to join either – it's definitely just me time 🙂
    As for A Moveable Feast, I'm honestly not a big Hemingway fan, but I did enjoy the parts with F. Scott Fitzgerald quite a bit. I wonder how much he was exaggerating?

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