LitClub:  The Book Club
Lanphier Cove, Connecticut

YOU COULD CALL THEM "The Girls of Summer" or even "Fair Weather Friends" because this group of 15 gathers only from May to September. Yet in those few months, they cover a lot of territory—in books and miles.

So why just the summer months?
Lanphier Cove is a summer community on Long Island Sound, and few cottages have insulation or heat. So most of us head elsewhere during the winter months. It's just too cold here in the winter months.

OK, what's with your name—The Book Club? It's kind of dull isn't it?
Well, maybe we could think about a new name. [Well, it's a step in the right direction. —Editor.]

You've got 4 months? Does that mean you read 4 books?
Nooooooo. We meet every 2 weeks to talk about a different book. So we end up reading just about the same amount of books that a year-round club reads.

That's impressive! Can you give us some titles?
Here's our list from this summer:

Loving Frank
Last Night at the Lobster
Thirteenth Tale
Gone with the Wind
Three Cups of Tea
Pillars of the Earth
Mrs. Wilkes Boardinghouse Cookbook by Sema Wilkes

When do you choose your books?
We prepare our reading list in September and try to vary the types of works—current fiction, a classic, non-fiction, memoir, mystery, poetry or short-stories. Then we choose one really "fat" book to read over the winter.

We also choose a cookbook—one with essays or recollections—then center a meeting around its recipes.

The cookbook meetings sound like fun.
They're wonderful. One of our cookbooks resulted in a 3-hour trip to New York. We ate at the restaurant owned by the author of Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie—Rebecca Charles. Rebecca was hard at work in the kitchen but joined us for a chat after the lunch rush.

Another trip was to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, right on the Hudson River. We dined French style after having read The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin.

What about this year's cookbook meeting?
We stayed put—but we hardly went hungry. We'd read Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook— perhaps some of your readers know about her spot in Savannah. It's quite famous.

And in tribute to this amazing 93-year-old author, we heaped our plates with Southern food: oysters & spinach, artichoke dip, mac & cheese, pickled beets, fried chicken, scalloped squash, tomato aspic, orange salad, pineapple upside-down cake and Boardinghouse Truffle (see photos).

You've done some other book tie-ins, right?
Yes, our New York jaunt was about more than eating. Before lunch we visited the Frick Museum on 5th Avenue to see the famous Vermeer painting from Girl with the Pearl Earring—which had been one of our books.

Then after lunch we headed to the Museum of Natural History for a special film on Lewis & Clark, a tome we had struggled through.

And back home you started a community lending library?
Right. The group took over some shed space and started the Lanphier Lending Library. We have both adult and children's offerings. It's run on an honor system and members volunteer for a week during the summer to open and close the Library daily, as well as re-shelve and straighten out the books. It's worked out very well and is quite popular with residents.

Anything else...other than coming up with a new name? What about your meetings?
Well...we hold our meetings in the early afternoon with discussion and light refreshments. The hostess usually presents information about the author and the book. Then each of us gives our opinion and we follow up with a general discussion. The meetings last about an hour-and-a-half, and since we are an informal group, the time is not always spent on book discussion. The exception to our usual format is the cookbook meeting.

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