It happens all the time. We read and see our own lives reflected on the pages of the book in hand.
This afternoon, members from five book groups gathered to discuss Amor Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow. Rave Russian reviews all the way around. The title is the perfect summertime elixir for the book lover who craves an author partner with no qualms about leading. What a great way to connect anyone interested in tying together in Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chalypin, Eugene Oregin, hidden rooms, Russian history, Gorky, Gogol, Montaigne and, whew, the literary, historical and cultural cross pollination goes on. Pollination? Did I mention bees and honey?
No use telling you the book's storyline. I won't spoil a n y t h I n g. The book does introduce us to a triangulating triumvirate: a chef, a count and a maitre d' who all cabal to govern, flourish and enrich one another through camaraderie, clandestine chicanery and clever positioning. And there's juggling. With knives.
Another beautiful triumvirate presented itself to me during our discussion. Before ebooks, cell phones, stevia, kale and equal rights for women, three individuals have shared an enduring friendship that I have been privy since we opened our doors at the Hotel Chapter Endnotes in 2007. Seated across from me for over 10 years, three literary muses have graced our discussions, bringing their experiences and expertise to our conversations and educating our groups by simply sharing their life experiences as they apply to our reading journey.
These individuals have forged friendships that have weathered parenthood, marriage, long-distance correspondences and the travails of loosing loved ones. They have traveled the globe, mediated familial and friendly relationships, temperated the inflamed and nurtured the possible. They have shared nachas of celebrating life's milestones, secrets that no phone cord could unwind and advice, anecdotes and opinions, for no one to ignore.
The trio were affected by our world's wars. They have seen our country through the growing pains of the 1960s, the audacity of man to go to the moon, the decline of civility and the rise of the electronic social identity. They have witnessed Jim Crow, political cover ups, environmental clean ups and various governments' shut down. From Playtex to Putin, they have seen it all. Their grace and grit come from their understanding of accepting new normals, reinventing the self and owning fully their sense of being.
This troika possess a life-long love of literature and-almost complete-willingness to accept others' experiences and observations. One must have their limits.
Shirley, Marilyn and Bobbi have been attending Chapter Endnotes since we opened out first book, Zayde Smith's On Beauty.
Indeed, this triumvirate is beautiful.
It was wonderful to discuss AGIM this afternoon, enjoy our Russian epicurean fare and share our thoughts about the book. Thank you to Randi for creating this opportunity.
SueAnn, Linda, Meryl and Bobby A. felt strongly that the book's themes centered on love, friendship and the ability to flourish with a kind spirit in limited boundaries. Sam accepted the book would not hunker down in the gulags. Sherrie recognized the tribulations of exile at home as part of the human condition. Our discussions are always deep. The conversation could have gone on for several more hours.
Before well leave the revolving door of the Metropol with a passport and plan and ask Pavel to wave for a taxi, I hope the discussion's denouement imprints us with a deposit of Montaigne and the Marines. Consider mastering your circumstances, lest they master you. Or, as Gomer Pyle probably learned rather quickly: adapt, improvise and overcome.
I appreciate your the gifts of friendship, literature and learning.
Can't believe no one wanted to read from my AGIM Glossary and Guide. What's 22 extra pages of information?
Going to treat myself to a Robin Egg.