Monday, January 13, 2014

Dinner with Friends

Vita Sackville-West wrote, "It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily away. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?" I couldn't agree more. There are special moments that we don't want to forget. Last week, I had a memorable night with a group of friends. There was friendship, good conversation, flowers and candlelight. I didn't want to forget any of it.

My book club is one of those joys of life that I cherish. We have been together for about 20 years and we treasure our friendships. It is one of those wonderful things that came out of a simple conversation. I remember vividly the day the club was born. A group of us, consisting mostly of mothers at my daughter's school, had breakfast together one morning and talked about wanting to create a book group. We were all enthusiastic and decided to take the plunge. We set a date, picked a location and chose a book: Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. The book club was born and has been going strong ever since. New friends have joined over the years, but most of that core group has remained. We have gone through the milestones of life together and shared many things. Books are our focus, but friendship is the glue that holds us together.

We meet at each other's homes for dinner and our gatherings are cozy, fun and always stimulating. The other night the meeting was at my house and because we were celebrating a member's birthday, I decided to do something a little special. I styled the table with flowers from Hollyflora, new place mats and napkins, and lots of candles to give it a festive feel. We were discussing a book, but we were also celebrating a birthday.

The flowers set the tone for the table 

Hollyflora specializes in groupings of small, romantic flower arrangements 

Even our book The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt looked fetching in this setting

I put out votives for ambiance

The flowers were so beautiful that I couldn't stop taking pictures 

Before everyone arrived, I lit the candles

They gave the table a warm glow

The green and gray napkins are from Lavender Blue, a store in Pacific Palisades that carries French linens

The flower arrangements of pinks, green, yellows and apricot complemented the linens

 The scene looked magical bathed in candle light

The table was ready and it was time for everyone to arrive. The doorbell rang and my friends walked in, buzzing about the book and excited to sit down and eat. It was a cozy and fun evening. The food, brought by one of our members, was delicious. We drank a good wine and toasted the birthday girl. We had birthday cake for dessert. And the book...we were all enthusiastic about The Goldfinch! We had a fascinating discussion about the first half of the book. So many parallels to Dickens, more than I had already discovered. And how did the author Donna Tartt manage to do such a good job of getting inside the heads of two lost, adolescent boys binging on alcohol and drugs? She writes about grief in a powerful way. We talked about this brilliant writer who cultivates such an air of mystery. She took ten years to write this book. So much more to talk about. To be continued next month when we tackle the second half of the book...

It was a night to remember!


  1. Your table setting looks lovely. The flowers and candles really add ambiance.
    I am reading Donna Tartt's first novel The Secret History and I am early in the book but her writing skills are very impressive. It has been a long time since I have read something of this calibre.
    I hope to read her second book before reading Goldfinch.
    Will be interested in your opinion when you are finished reading it.

  2. It all looks so beautiful. I love seeing the book on the table, instead of a Kindle. I do hope we never lose our love of books themselves. The flowers add such a beautiful glow. I'm enjoying The Goldfinch and am anxious to see what you write about in the second half. I'll have to hurry to catch up.

  3. Sunday....Thank you for such a special evening. As a newer member of the book group (just 10 years) I am so pleased we have such a lovely group of women for our book club. The dinner was divine. Judie

  4. The evening sound delightful. My book group is a favorite thing I look forward to each month. I, too, look forward to your final remarks on "The Goldfinch". We are beginning "The Orphan Master's Son". Have a wonderful week. Bonnie

  5. The book group I started last year will celebrate its one year anniversary in March. It's been a pleasure getting to know the members and to see how they react to literature. Our conversations are always energizing.
    I think that it is fantastic that you've been meeting to discuss books with the same people for so long - I love that you celebrate your discussions with beautiful flowers and ambiance. I read The Goldfinch last month and it was riveting - I hope you enjoy the second half!

    1. Anbolyn, congratulations on your book group. I remember when you started it. Your group is very lucky to have as a member someone as well-read as you!

  6. Even the Bloomsbury group would have been thrilled to have joined such a jolly evening.

  7. Judith, you made me smile at that! Wishing you a happy New Year!

  8. Your table looks stunning. Seeing the book jacket, makes me wish I had the actual book, as I've been reading it on my Ipad, might drop into Diesel and get it today. Gorgeous Iceland poppies.