Sunday, March 18, 2018

MARCH 2018 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, The Rainwater Secret by Monica Shaw

Ten men are carrying a log. Nine are on the small end. One is on the heavy end. You want to help…which end will you lift.

20 Bookers welcomed Dallas author, Monica Shaw, to the home of Melanie Prebis to discuss this month’s selection, The Rainwater Secret, seven years in the making. Many thanks to Bonnie Magee our food czar for organizing lunch for our guest, and to everyone who contributed to the yummy spread. Not only can Bookers read but evidently, we can cook too!

As you know, the magic of Facebook can connect us all to each other, which is where I came across Monica’s historical novel last summer. After both MN and I read it, we agreed it was a fascinating story. Monica and I connected through social media and she graciously accepted our offer to address Bookers today. We finally met in person in November at the Texas Book Festival in Austin. Monica donates a portion of her sales to the Medical Missionaries of Mary, so she also fits right in with our Pinnacle Women’s Club philanthropic principles.

Books introduce us to people you want to either invite to dinner or ban from the house…some test our conscience and challenge our trust in human nature and most transport us to worlds we may have already discovered, others we hope to visit, but all offer a slice of life we most likely haven’t encountered.

We began our 14th year of Bookers leaving our home state of Texas to visit Oregon, California, Hawaii, Vegas, Georgia, and Alabama, then took flight to a small hockey town in Sweden. We moved on to a shanty boat on the Mississippi River; spent some time in England with goats and sheep and in Italy during the German occupation. Last month we visited an elephant sanctuary in Thailand and the rest of the year, we will be in Galveston during the 1900 hurricane, in Amish country in Pennsylvania, and in the inner circle of the third President of the United States…but not before our guest author takes us from Maghull, England in 1946 to Nigeria.

Anna Goodwill, a twenty-nine year old school teacher by trade not tied to either solemn or simple vows of the Catholic Church joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary, a religious institute of the Church dedicated to providing health care to the underdeveloped regions of the world. With her mother and father dead and her hopes for marriage and children dashed, she volunteered to teach leper children in Africa. Her story is one of resiliency and deep faith in humanity, possessing the moral fiber to place the needs of others in front of her own. Anna witnessed deep love and unbearable loss but the plight of leprosy resulted in her own salvation. She was an angel of hope for the children and adults…her reward “a giant smile” was payment for services rendered.

Monica’s journey began while reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows as her great aunt Lily Murphey (Anna Goodwill in the book) kept popping into her head as though she was putting Monica on the path to write her story. Monica detailed her research efforts and travels, showing us a slideshow of actual footage from the area in Nigeria that the Medical Missionaries of Mary and Anna lived and worked. Letters played a significant role in the story development…the lost art of letter writing replaced in today’s world by anything electronic and fast. Ninety percent of the novel is factual, the other ten, literary license for character development and plot. She also shared with us the agony of “editing,” cover design, and stories of the real-life characters depicted in the novel. We talked about the stigmatism attached to leprosy and the different beliefs about the origins of the disease…some believing it is highly contagious, others thinking it is hereditary, while some latch onto the idea that it is heaven’s punishment to negative people. In 1999, the World Health Organization delisted Nigeria from the list of high endemic nations with leprosy. Recent reports indicate the country has relapsed prompting the minister of their federal government to launch a five-year program to end in 2020 calling on the media and civil society to propagate the message that it is curable and treatment is free.

For more information and stories, please visit Monica’s website: She hopes to experience life in the same area that her great aunt Lily devoted her life to, and follow up this debut with her own story. Stay tuned!

On the business side
The Memorial golf tournament honoring Jane Freer, Chuck Turner, and Carla Malin will be held on March 17th. Since Bookers’ has yet to “dedicate” Jane’s brick in her beloved Memory Garden, we thought an appropriate time would be following the tournament. We will gather behind the putting green around 2:00 or 2:30 to pay our respects. Please bring a memory, a prayer, a funny story…anything to share in honor of our friend and fellow Booker.

Beverly Dossett reports that Chris Cleave (Little Bee) is writing a sequel to Everyone Brave Is Forgiven. We anxiously await its publication.
                             COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                             WHITE:          LIGHT READ
                              PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                              RED:              CHALLENGING

April 10                                  The Uncertain Season by Texas author Ann Howard Creel
Follows the lives of three women in the aftermath of the 1900 hurricane that devastated Galveston…one living a privileged life, her disgraced and flamboyant cousin, and an unnamed girl living on the streets.
                                                Home of Sandy Molander
                                                Reviewer: TBD

May 15                                   Change of date due to travel plans
To Everything A Season – Sherri Schaeffer, a debut set in Amish country in Lancaster Pennsylvania where two worlds collide forcing them together.
                                                Home of Donna Walter
                                                Reviewer: TBD

Summer Read:                      America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha, “Patsy” becomes the keeper of the secrets and her father’s confidant after her mother’s death and his appointment as the American Minister to France.

Missionaries bind up broken hearts, dry tears, and set families free…we can follow their lead by focusing on what it takes to live with such generosity toward others.

Happy Reading,


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