Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wild Women

Today I went to a meeting of the WILD Women Book Group at my church. I always thought that was a strange name for a church book group, but I found out just recently that WILD is an acronym that stands for Women in Livestock Development. Wait a minute! These are women in an inner city church. I can almost guarantee that no one has livestock. Turns out they take collection every month to support one of my favorite causes: Heifer International. What that group does is a whole different story, but if you don't know, it's definitely worth finding them through Google or another search engine.
This year the wild women have chosen not the spiritual titles you might expect but mysteries, and today, for their first meeting, they read my Skeleton in a Dead Space. When I asked if my presence would inhibit them, minister Cyndy Twedell who spearheads the group laughed aloud and said, "Not likely." She was right--it didn't.
Cyndy is terrific at leading book discussions--I doubt she'll ever want to leave the ministry, but she could always teach literature and do it well. She focused on asking the ladies to talk about character--in the allotted hour she never got past character to plot because everyone had so much to say. Authors have long said that readers--especially critics and reviewers--find symbolism that the authors never intended. Today it wasn't so much symbolism as qualities in the characters. Kelly was praised for compassion, especially her determination to identify the skeleton and give her the burial and recognition she deserved as a person rather than just let a pile of bones go to an unmarked grave. What I didn't say was that I had to give Kelly a reason for being so determined to solve the mystery of the identity of the skeleton. But maybe authors write symbolism and qualities into works naturally without realizing it. Others said they could picture some of the characters--Keisha, the office manager (one person wanted to know who would play her in the movie) or Anthony, the carpenter whose all bluff but has a soft heart or even Joe, the young wannabe gansta. It was all fun, and I didn't talk much.
My friend Jean was there and was silent the whole hour--she said later it was because it was her first meeting with the group. But when she spoke up, she blew me away. She said, in effect, she was nervous about reading it because when you know someone so well, you want them to do well--and she thought I had. She enjoyed the book. I know she's not a mystery reader, so that was double praise.
There were a lot of references to the second book, No Neighborhood for Old Women, which several had read. Someone would say "Well, Keisha has a bigger role in the second book" or "There's more about  the Guthries in the second book." I bet I sold quite a few of that one today too. What fun!


LD Masterson said...

I would enjoy your book group. I attend a mystery book group at the library but the discussions seem to wander off the book and into social/personal issues far too often.

Judy Alter said...

I know you would be welcome. The next book is one of P. D. James's but I can't remember which one. Please call University Christian Church, 817.926.6631 if you're in Fort Worth and ask for Cyndy Twedell's office. Someone there can tell you the book title and the date for October. The November meeting will read In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming, one of my favorites.

Cyndy Twedell said...

Thank you for coming to our WILD Women group, Judy! What a treat to have the author of our book present for the discussion. And yes, all are welcome. Our year of mystery continues on October 16 with P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley. Brown bag lunch in the Library of University Christian Church, 2720 South University Drive in Fort Worth.