Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Ladies Book Club: May 2011

Book Read:

Ladies in Attendance:
5 regular members

Treats shared:
YUM! YUM! What a good spread we had this time around. Crackers with cream cheese and salsa. Hummus and Pita Chips. Baguettes with Mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Olives. Chocolate cookies. Brownies. Fruit Torte. Red Wine.

To Read or Not to Read:
4 ladies read the whole book.
1 lady did not.

My Reaction:
I was very happy when the ladies picked this book for our May pick. I threw it out there because it was what I was reading at the time and I thought it would be a nice pick for Mom's Day. We also have had some nice conversations about our grandmothers and I know that many of us have or have had a very special bond with them.

I also adore Adriana Trigiani's books. I read and reviewed Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine last year and loved them.

This book is part memoir, part self-help book. Combining stories of both her grandmothers, Trigiani shares bits of wisdom and lessons from these two women from food, family, fashion and business.

I enjoyed it overall. I was touched by the warmth in which she writes about these women. Her love for them is evident in her writing. I enjoyed more of the stories she shared then some of the lessons. I really enjoyed these women. They were strong, passionate, smart and hardworking. I thought of my own beloved Grams during many moments of this book and that is what I will share with you all.
I had many little blue post it notes sprinkled throughout and shared each moment with the club. Here are some that I enjoyed.

Adriana explaining the joy she brought to her Grandma Lucy:
"Whenever I came into the room, she'd light up, so happy to see me. No one ever in the course of my entire life was ever as happy to see me as she was. Looking back, now, I realize that you only ever need one person who lights up that way when you enter a room. One person is all it takes to give a kid confidence."
I identified with this because my Grams and my Mom were like this with me growing up. I always felt important when I walked in any room.

Adriana explaining the Italian term Sprezzatura:
"Elegance that is neither forced nor dictated, that comes from within, effortless like zippy dialogue, and is an extension of the person, not words for the sake of them."
I just want to be like this. :)

Adriana's Grandma Viola's morning ritual:
"Viola prepared her version of a latte, a bowl of steamed milk with half a cup of strong coffee in it. Viola added sugar, and then would take the heel of the bread from the day before and dip it into the milk and coffee."
I love morning traditions. I have my own and without it I am toast. :( I enjoy the simplicity of it and cherish it.

Grandma Lucy's take on love:
" If you find yourself dissatisfied, constantly angry, agitated, frustrated, and emotionally spent, if he does not bring out the best in you, no matter how much you love someone, no matter how many lovely moments offset the low points, if you are exhausted, you are not being fed. And if you are not being fed, you will not grow."
Simple. To the point. How true.

A trip past a yard sale, Adriana and Viola:
"She (Viola) backed up in front of it and handed me a five-dollar bill. "Go and get the Infant of Prague," she said. "Gram, this is the worst Infant of Prague I have ever seen." "A sacred relic in a yard sale is NOT right."
This is something my Grams would do. :)

Grandmothers and faith:
"I found rosary beads tucked in their pockets, and prayer cards in their wallets, and small books of wisdom, dog-eared and marked up, on their night stands. They owned the destiny of their souls, knowing that there was very little of the physical world that they could control. Loved ones would die, money would come and go, friends would disappoint, family would burt, disaster would strike but nothing that ever happened to them would catch them unaware and render them helpless, because they knew how to pray."
This was one of my favorite parts of the book. The generation of her grandmothers held so strongly to their faith, just like my parents and my grandparents. I envy that so much. The quiet strength my Grams always seemed to have, even though I knew she was suffering inside from all that she had lost. I can only hope I can achieve that level of calm and faith at some point in my life.

Words of the wise:
"Apologize when you are wrong"

So overall, I really took to the book. There were moments that I felt were a bit repetitive but it didn't bore me or bother me too much. It was definitely filled with a lot of lessons to learn and live by. I certainly appreciated that and though I expected a bit more of a memoir, I still enjoyed it. Her love for her Grandmothers really came through and I have to honor that. It would be hard to edit my own memories of my grandmothers too.

Ladies' Reaction:
Overall, the Ladies enjoyed it. They admitted that it did seem a bit wordy and repetitive at times but that, once again, the author's love for her grandmothers really came through. That feeling made them forgive a bit of that. They enjoyed the lessons mentioned, especially the ones about relationships. They were a bit surprised that Adriana's mother didn't show up too much in the stories and they were curious about that. A few didn't enjoy the home lessons as much as others (like me!) or the child rearing lessons (like me!) but the business and faith portion were interesting to them.

This prompted some conversation about our own families; how we grew up, who keeps traditions alive, what really stays with us from childhood, etc. It was fun to reminisce about my own childhood and to hear their stories as well.

Good Book Club Pick?
This was a nice change from our last pick (Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw) and we admitted it was a simple, fun read. Being that it was around Mom's day, I thought it was a good pick for us. I think the lessons mentioned in here just bring up some good conversations and a trip down memory lane. That, for me, makes it a good book club pick.

Author Website:

Next Book Up:
The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

*Read for 2011 Read From My Shelves Project

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Gina said...

Ah yes....I was waiting to read more about this author's work. (ooh...sounds like the snackage was good too) Sounds like another winner from this hihgly praised author. Definitely will be checking her out soon. Thanks for the peek inside the club! ^_^

Misha said...

I was wondering where I have heard the word "Sprezzatura" before. Then I remembered it was on the show - The Borgias. I like the word :)

Very Valentine has been lying on my shelf since last year! I need to read it soon.

I hope you enjoy The Midwife's Confession - I liked it a lot!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Oh wow. This sounds amazing! I must must read it. Danielle of There's a Book recommended it to me awhile ago.

Carol said...

I love this feature, Michelle.

I am sure I tell you this every time LOL

This sounds like a fab read.
My nana was my best friend. She was the only one who understood me and didn't judge me.


Audra said...

Not my usual read but you've got me a bit curious about it! Also, I envy your book group -- I need to find one in Boston to join!

La Toya said...

Super cool blog! I loved reading about your book club. I've been itching to start my own!

Teresa said...

I never thought of this one for a book club pick.

I just finished a Midwife's Confession. I think it my prove to be an interesting discussion...

Marie Cloutier said...

sounds like a really fun night!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Lazy Girl, I can't respond to your comment and it won't let me leave a comment on your blog!!!

I am following you now and I love that you posted a Wailin Jennys tune on your site! I love them!!!