Entertainment Tip: Things Remembered
"Things Remembered takes place in the fall--my favorite time of year. I love watching the leaves change color, the sunlight turn amber, and the crisp smell in the air as the mornings turn frosty. Autumn is such an integral part of Things Remembered that I think of it as another character in the book, setting the stage for memories that will reunite Karla and her grandmother, Anna, after years of estrangement.
Karla and her two sisters came to live with their grandmother when their parents were killed in an automobile accident. While Anna easily bonded with the two younger girls, Karla remained aloof and emotionally isolated. At thirty-five, she still hasn’t found the peace and happiness she longs to experience, secretly wondering, as she did when she lived with her grandmother, if there’s something wrong with her.
When she learns Anna has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, knowing her sisters either can’t or won’t pitch in to help Anna with what needs to be done, Karla turns her coffee shop over to her ex husband and heads north. She discovers a woman startlingly different than the one she remembers, and slowly comes to realize it wasn’t Anna who made her life miserable when Karla lived there, but Karla herself. With the help of a feisty new best friend and a handsome veterinarian Karla finally comes to know, and even like herself again.
Woven into the story like stitches in a heritage quilt are the sights and sounds and smells of autumn. Hands wrapped around a mug of tea, applesauce cake filling the house with rich spicy smells as it bakes, the simplicity of pie crust cookies from an era when nothing was wasted. Close your eyes and put yourself there. It’s a great place to be, isn’t it?
My entertaining tips are a little unusual as I believe a great and memorable dinner party depends more on the people invited than the food or ambience. While it’s fun and impressive to set the scene with fancy folded napkins, and a lush centerpiece and to serve wonderful wine with the meal, it’s the conversation that people remember. Before anyone arrives, I have a mental list of table-talk conversation starters--if you could go back and choose a different career, what would it be--is a great one. It’s amazing what fun things you’ll discover about people you thought you knew. A highly successful doctor friend of mine said he would be a National Geographic photographer. We talk about photography all the time now.
If you’re in a book club you know how hard it can be to actually talk about the book for more than a few minutes, which can be incredibly frustrating when you’d really like to hear everyone’s thoughts. If you’re the host, try this--either use the questions at the back of the book, or make up your own. Put each question on a piece of paper, fold it, or if you want to get a little fancier, roll and tie it with a ribbon. Give each member one of the questions and let them lead the discussion. Wonderful people make wonderful dinner parties. Sometimes they just need a little nudge."