A big thank you to Barnet Synagogue book club who had me come and talk to them yesterday evening about God’s Will and the Yellow Dress.
I’m very happy to say that nine of their members turned up and I was warmly welcomed into their fold as I revealed the story behind the story, and shared details of my trip to Lithuania when I travelled with a Jewish American Genealogy Group in 2013 to check out the shtetls — some of them with their old landscape and buildings still intact — and the social history documented in the archives in Vilnius.
In return, these vibrant women shared ancestral stories of their own heritage, tales passed down to them by parents and grandparents, all of them in keeping with the atmosphere of GWATYD. Collectively, these women make up a very successful book group with a total of sixteen members. Not all of them of the same faith. They come to the table with diverse life experiences. An eclectic bunch, in terms of their taste in literature, but all of them open to lively discussions based on different opinions about the books they read.
Towards the end of the evening I gave a short reading from about a third of the way through the novel in question, a piece which I had been practising all day in the hope of doing justice to the characters, Rachel and Manny, in this extract of their lives. I’d chosen this particular piece because it focused on Rachel’s difficult moment of emancipation, a relevant choice to conclude International Women’s Day, I felt.
Having brought along sufficient private copies of the book to lend out, I heart-warmingly discovered on reaching my final full stop, that all were intrigued enough to want to take the book home and read on. I now wait with bated breath for their final verdict and their comments.
And here is their response to GWATYD:
5 of us read the whole book. 1 started, but didn't complete it. Two further members said that the print size was just too small for them to read.
Of the 5 who read the book, 4 said they had enjoyed the read. They found the story compelling and interesting, and enjoyed the characters and setting. They were keen to know what happened and found it an easy read.
We're all a little reluctant to criticise since overall we enjoyed the book, and furthermore, we don't really feel, as a humble book club, qualified to provide literary criticism. But as a summary, since the story is good and sufficiently gripping, we felt with a little polish (and better printing) this would be a goer!
With very best wishes, congratulations on the book, and our sincere hopes that this book makes it with a publisher