For the past two years, I have attended a special gathering of readers and authors—an annual event that takes place in the small East Texas town of Jefferson. The Pulpwood Queen Book Club and Author Extravaganza is a celebration of books. In 2010, founder Kathy Patrick, invited me to attend the event as a featured author. My first mystery, Murder at the Arlington, had just been released, and Kathy included it as the group’s bonus book for the month of November. The following year, when my second book, Murder at the Luther, came out, I attended again. Not only did I have the opportunity to promote my mystery series, I met dozens of avid, devoted readers, and talented authors. I came away with autograph copies of books by bestselling authors Pat Conroy, Fannie Flagg, and Jamie Ford.
Since my husband and I were traveling during that time, I sent most of these books to my sister for safekeeping until our wanderlust dissipated and we settled down. That happened five months ago and after finding a place to live, I sent for my box of books. It was like a literary Christmas celebration.
My bookshelf is filled with books I cherish, books I take down when I want to read my favorite lines, paragraphs, and chapters, books with words so vivid I can taste them. There’s John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meaning with his character description of the housekeeper, Germaine, and F. Scout Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby with narrator Nick Carraway’s description of all the zany people who frequented Gatsby’s perpetual party, and Billy Collin’s Nine Horses, a book containing of some of the best poetry ever written.
Working my way through all those Pulpwood Queen treasures, I finally picked up Elizabeth Berg’s Home Safe. A New York Times Bestseller, this book is one of the few on my shelf with a bookmark noticeably marking an incredible piece of writing. Chapter twelve describes Helen Ames and her daughter’s train trip from Chicago to Milwaukee. After reading this chapter, I wanted to take this trip, ride on a train pulled by an engine with a friendly face, see the deer in the fields as I rode by, and gaze at the white-faced cliffs along the Mississippi. Since that was not possible, I reread this chapter three times.
Home Safe (Ballantine Book, 2009) by Elizabeth Berg - a stunning read.