Life Imitates Art
Twenty eight years ago a handful of youngish Virginia Beach women met in a Lago Mar living room to form a book club. This was YEARS before Oprah started hers, by the way. She copied US.
Our first literary selection was a blunder: “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte.
It’s a miracle we ever met again after slogging our way through that dense, dated novel, peppered with French phrases and published in tiny print.
But meet we did. And we’ve gathered every single month since. Which means we’ve read about 336 books and drunk about 1,008 bottles of wine together.
Over the years we’ve had babies, grand-babies and lost almost all of our parents. We’ve shared secrets, stories, laughs and a few tears. I once wrote a column saying I wanted my book club to make end-of-life decisions for me, since I feared my family might be a bit too quick to pull the plug.
If any of my family members are reading this, that directive stands.
A couple of members drifted away over the years, a few moved. Others took their places and today we are five. For a while we called ourselves The Villettes, in honor of that first stinker of a book. But it sounded like a marching band, so we dropped it and became simply, Book Club.
There’s no place to hide in a five-member club, so no matter how busy and hectic our lives, we all try to read the book. And we also try to discuss it. Not like some book clubs.
On Monday afternoon four members of my group met at the Beach Cinema Alehouse for a matinee of the new romantic comedy, “Book Club.” I suspect every all-girl book club in America will do the same in a coast-to-coast orgy of life imitating art.
If you don’t know, the film features four fabulous actresses: Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen and Jane Fonda. (Oh, please, no "Hanoi Jane" snark. The lady can act. And she looks great for 80.) They play women of a certain age who have been book clubbing for FORTY years, which makes them waaaay older than us.
When they read the sexy best-seller, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” these ladies find their love lives, well, electrified.
Oh, and they call an emergency book club meeting, at one point. Something we’ve never done. Perhaps we're reading the wrong novels.
At the risk of sounding sexist, this is a shameless chick flick. I found it a fun way to spend 1 hour and 44 minutes with three of my besties on a cloudy afternoon. Shoot, the soundtrack alone was worth the 7-buck price of admission: “You Sexy Thing,” Hot Chocolate, “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” Tom Petty, “Late in the Evening,” Paul Simon, “If Not For You,” Bob Dylan and “I’d Do Anything For Love,” Meat Loaf.
No, my book club hasn’t read the racy Christian Grey trilogy by E.L. James. And we won’t. Not because we’re prudes or intellectual snobs (shoot, we once read "Lives Of The Monster Dogs") but because we read only female authors. Our plan is to work our way through everything written by women and then move on to the men.
Hemingway will have to wait.
Well, whaddya know. Turns out E.L. James IS a woman. Look out, Virginia Beach.
Our theater on Monday afternoon was dotted with women. There was one man.
A knot of ladies in our row ordered a bottle of wine. At 2 p.m.
“I want to join their club,” my pal Maria whispered just as she spilled our popcorn all over the floor.
That’s the book club spirit.