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Jumping on the Book Club Bandwagon - The Paris Wife

08 March 2012

I have forever enjoyed having a lot going on and tend to do everything best when there's just the right amount of things on my plate - not too much where I feel overwhelmed but most definitely not too little. Too little and thoughts of failure or wasting away my youth creep in and I can no longer enjoy relaxing in front of my beloved Wheel of Fortune. The lull after the Holidays is when most people enjoy the slower pace and settling into the new year. I, however, panic that the opportunity to make this year a new start for me has been unseized and begin to panic. This is how lovely new hobbies like the new Book Club are formed.

After putting myself out there on Facebook in early January (Married white female seeks same or different to read books with and give her a reason to clean her married home for company...), the newly formed book club selected The Paris Wife and met last evening to discuss over iced tea and wine.

I was so happy to host some of my favorite women and tried my best to make the Hippie Haven into a venue for tea, wine and conversation that Gertrude Stein would be proud of.

Going with the Paris theme, I served iced tea, Nut Thin crackers with my favorite Metropolitan Brie and Bonne Maman's Blackberry preserves with tea cakes that I made using my Martha Stewart tea cake pan and The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free lemon chiffon cake recipe. I also had a sampling from the Whole Food's dessert case: cannolis, creme puffs and cake balls that were adored by the gluten-goers.

Gluten-free lemon tea cakes c/o The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free.
Definitely the most-used cookbook in my home.

Delights from the Whole Foods pastry case.
As for the read, we discussed the book a good amount in addition to the usual Dallas book club gossip: girls from high school, work life and, of course, the Junior League. We had some mixed opinions on Ms. McLain's novel which opened itself up to some great discussion.

I personally enjoyed the book, though for a newlywed the ending was less historical novel and more sheer horror. We all know what happens to Hadley and Ernest and it is foreshadowed throughout the book, but to read of a love that began to strongly and ended so abruptly was hard for me to get through. Many of the book club questions I researched beforehand asked if Hadley fought for her marriage enough, and our take was, while she did try to fight in the end, was she fighting for it the whole while by never really exploring an independent life outside of her marriage? As a wife who works, volunteers, blogs and book clubs, it's difficult to put myself in the shoes of a full-time wife in the 1920's, but this book was a great way to do so.

We also talked about how much this book reads like a memoir and our comfort level with the author taking on Hadley's voice and discussing the most intimate parts of her life. We had some variance of opinions on if it is fully appropriate to own a once very-much-real person's perspecitive on her marriage, even when it is clear that this is a work of fiction. It made us wonder how her family might have reacted to the book. It also made us all Wikipedia the hell out of Ernest and Haldey Hemmingway. I might have to read The Sun Also Rises next to feel fully caught up with this famous couple!

With so much going on at my office this week, book club almost tipped the scales from a full plate to too much. I am so glad that it all came together and we are already planning our next literary adventures. If you are in the Dallas area and are looking for a new group of women to read with, you are most certainly invited to join us!

Have you read The Paris Wife? If so, what did you think?

What are some of your favorite clubs or activities that you are involved with?

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