Karen's theme for Jacqueline Luckett's, Passing Love...: "All Things French!!"
The morning was mild with a hint of fall in the air as we arrived for our book club meeting at the Brick, located in the Shoppes of Historic Avondale (also referred to by many of the locals as "Little Paris"). Karen, our hostess did not leave one detail out as she decorated the table with a Parisian theme. Everything was French inspired; from the French Country toile cellophane bags (filled with Chocolates and packets of French Vanilla Latte in a coffee mug), to the folders adorned with Parisian flowers and an image of the Eiffel Tower It was almost as if Rubymae "dropped by" as the air was filled with a lavender fragrance that overflowed from the sachets in our gift bags.
After a prayer, Karen began the meeting by announcing that October marks the 8th anniversary of U.S. G.I.R.L.S., and in honor of our anniversary, She thought of a creative game: The U.S. G.I.R.L.S. Book Club Awards!! We all voted and below are a few of the winners:
Best Book: "The Loom" - Ka Saundra
Best Overall Meeting Hosted: Celeste - "Gathering of Waters"
Best Choice of Book Everyone Liked: Mama Ruby Series - Bonnie & Sheryl
Best Comment During Book Club Discussion: Johnny Cakes Anyone? - "Gathering Of Waters"
Karen created over 20 questions for our discussion; we began with Nicole's constant yearning as a child to travel to Paris. Val accredited her desire partly to Squire teaching Nicole French at such an early age. JayBee also associated this desire to genetic psychology = a chemical imbalance that fosters the need to return to "one's" birthplace or ancestral home. Karen concurred with this hypothesis by explaining that on a trip to a Barrier Island off the coast of Georgia a few years ago; she felt as if she were home, as if the island was familiar. The island, known as Sapelo, was the original plantation home of the Tobacco Tycoon, R.J. Reynolds. Many of the slave's decendents remain on the island today.
There was much discussion about Clint's marriage proposal when he was in fact still married. Nicole's lack of self-esteem or need to love herself may have attributed to her failed marriage as well as her affair with a married man. We all agreed that Squire was a weak man that loved Rubymae with every fiber of his being. We also all agreed that had he gone to Paris for baby Nicole, he would have remained with Rubymae if presented with the opportunity. The issue of passing was discussed with vigor.
There were several true life examples presented that always came back full circle. Full circle meaning that passing was a way to escape racism in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and was looked at more as a means of survival or advancing. In the post racial era, passing would be unheard of. Karen presented the question of the title having more than one meaning (the Langston Hughes poem as well as "passing" for white). JayBee mentioned that it could also be looked at as a double entendre'.
The topic of family secrets was debated; some felt that it was best to let sleeping dogs lie, and some felt that there should be no skeletons in the family closet. Ultimately, everyone agreed that there really should not be any family secrets, particularly those of a medicinal nature. Full disclosure is the best disclosure. Ka Saundra asked the question that was on everyone's mind: Who was Nicole's father - Arnett or Squire? Karen read several excepts (descriptives of Arnett and Nicole's ears as well as baby Nicole arriving in October vs. November) to support her position of Team Arnett. Sheryl came back with some strong evidence (Nicole looked like Rubymae's Mother, Martha; and had Squire's narrow face) placing the lineage in Team Squire's corner. Wow, did Ka Saundra open Pandora's Box!! This debate could have gone on for hours. JayBee interjected that this may have been Ms. Luckett's intention to have the mystery of paternity looming at the end. Something to make the reader say...hummm.
After our lovely lunch and book talk,(in addition to the gift bags that greeted us at the table), Karen presented each of us with French-themed parting gifts (decorative letter boxes, note pads, travel cups, and date books); and there were no two gifts that were alike!!
Thank you Karen for selecting a wonderful read for our 8th anniversary. What an excellent choice for an intellectual and thought provoking exchange. You gave us a "round table" trip to Paris, and U.S. G.I.R.L.S. enjoyed the ride!! "Une re'union memorable club de lecture"