Today's guest post is from Kate Larson, Book Club Liaison at the wonderful SF Bay area bookstore Book Passage. Kate was at last night's National Reading Group Month event sponsored by the SF chapter of the Women's National Book Association at Book Passage that featured bestselling author Philippa Gregory. Sounds like it was a great event and it has me even more excited to read The Other Queen, which many of you won on this site! For more National Reading Group Month events throughout October, visit the official site. And be sure to check out Book Passage's Book Club section on their website which is full of excellent recommendations, I'll add it to the Bookstore Book Clubs list on the right as well. Thanks so much to Kate and Book Passage for this report!
Although it would be over an hour before Philippa Gregory was scheduled to speak, there was already a festive feeling in the air when I arrived at Book Passage last evening. The ladies of the Women’s National Book Association, , were setting up the reception tables with trays of cheeses, breads, fruit, beautiful flower arrangements and, of course, wine. Philippa Gregory’s advance crew soon arrived in the person of her charming husband, Anthony, to set up the video equipment. Some fans were already there, enjoying the refreshments and chatting among themselves and eventually we had to set up extra chairs to accommodate the overflow crowd.
I have noticed that writers, being solitary creatures, are sometimes awkward and uncomfortable when speaking in public. This was most definitely not the case with Philippa Gregory who “had” the audience the minute she took the podium. She delighted us with stories and videos of her farm in Yorkshire, the 70 wells and gardens she has built at schools in Nambia, her educational background, writing regimen, and finally how she came to write the story of Mary Boleyn (The Other Boleyn Girl) and her latest book, The Other Queen, and how she found the voice of Mary, Queen of Scots. Her stories were fascinating to hear and her delivery was in that self-deprecating humorous style that the English are so good at. Philippa Gregory is a very funny lady. I spoke to a few audience members about the book, The Other Queen, and one person made an interesting comment. She said: “You know, even though I, and most other people, know well the sad ending to Mary, Queen of Scots’ story, I couldn’t wait to get back to the book and find out what happens next. That’s the hallmark of a great writer.” I couldn’t agree more. Wonderful evening, wonderful writer.