PENINSULA ZOOMERS: Reading beyond the lines

I travel vicariously through the books I read. And I have never had to venture far alone for I have my gals in my book club to accompany me.

It is Paris in the 1830s. I am standing outside Victor Hugo’s house in the Place des Vosges. His wife is misbehaving. Victor doesn’t know.

Last month, I was heading to California during the Gold Rush with a couple of miscreant brothers who were paid assassins. They may have been tough guys but in the end, they loved their mother.

I have traversed the canals of Renaissance Venice with a midwife and have experienced the thrill of Formula One racing through the eyes of a talking dog in Seattle.

I have experienced the angst of a fallen Iranian colonel who now ekes out a desperate living in San Francisco.

I have trekked through the mountains of Afghanistan in order to build a school so that young girls can be educated.

And to think I have never had to leave my comfortable armchair.

I travel vicariously through the books I read. And I have never had to venture far alone for I have my gals in my book club to accompany me.

Our gaggle of girls has whittled down to just six, but that is how we like it. Our group is small and intimate and wonderful.

Our ages range from 50 to 66, and we come from various backgrounds. We vary in shape and size as well as temperament.  Some are quieter than others, while some of us are more loquacious.

It is the love of reading which brings us together, but that which bonds us is so much deeper.

Once a month, we meet at someone’s house, and we take turns being the hostess.

Upon arrival, there are the greetings and hugs at the door followed by the requisite exchanges of the latest gossip and enquiries about health.

The conversation continues and we are transported.

“How was your vacation in Hawaii?”

“Tell us about your last date!”

“How did the chemo treatment go?”

“Did you buy that new car?”

“Have you bought your outfit for your daughter’s wedding?”

Oh sure, we discuss the books we read (or didn’t read). After all this is a book club, right?

Each novel evokes a different reaction from each of us.

Sometimes an event in the story has triggered a powerful emotion and a closeted or painful memory is shared. For a moment we are silent. We are touched by the fact that our bond is so safe and secure that this often sad revelation can be expressed openly without fear or judgment.

As one of the gals emphasized, “What happens in Book Club, stays in Book Club!”

I am in awe of the power of our sisterhood, for we have discovered a warmth and camaraderie amongst us.

We are lucky as we know this feeling of kinship and social connectedness which women have experienced throughout the centuries will keep us healthy in mind and body.

We have a friendship and support system which expands beyond the pages of a book.

And next month if Book Club meets in Vegas for my big six-oh, I shall tell you all about it.

Oh sorry, just remembered: ”What happens in Vegas….”

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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