This afternoon I'm having tea with my friend Margaret. I love Margaret, and everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend like her. Margaret, who is coming up to 84, holds a book and tea salon on Thursday afternoons. That's the time when the local bookseller and various other friends drop by for tea and to talk about books. Margaret is eclectic. She reads everything from literary fiction, to mysteries, from history and historical fiction, to social commentary, from picture books to young adult literature. The only thing she stays away from is war stories. Having lived through World War II in her native Finland, Margaret figures she's had enough war for a lifetime.
Until she was 80, Margaret used to make the 1mile or so trek from her home to the bookstore just about every day of the week. I know because one of my daughters worked there for three years, and the three years before that, my editor's daughter worked there. The bookstore has changed hands 4 times over the last 20 or so years, but Margaret has been a constant. She'd walk down the hill, all 4' 10" of her, have a chat about what she'd been reading or whether this or that reviewer was off his rocker or right on the money. She'd buy a book, and then her husband Earnst would drive down and pick her and take her home. The walk back would have been just a little too much. She'd go home, read the book, and be back the next day for another one. Margaret is voracious. She reads faster and retains more than I've ever been able to.
These days, the book store comes to Margaret because she isn't able to get out any more. She has a big window overlooking the garden that Earnst tends so lovingly. Her world is one of books and her husband's garden. Amber, the book seller, brings along a bag of books for the week for Margaret to choose from. It's almost like a party. All those books at once. What a treat! Margaret keeps up on reviews on-line, and she's always happy to have recommendations from friends. I can't tell you how many books I've read on Margaret's recommendation, nor can I tell you have many of Margaret's books are in my 'to be read pile'. She's always giving me books, and not just for me either. Sometimes when I arrive, she'll have a book just for Ali, who isn't a sci-fi fan, but Margaret is sure she'll like this one because the "world building is outstanding". Or that wiener dog book she found for Katie because she knows that Katie is ga ga over wiener dogs. Yep, Margaret is a gem. Everyone deserves to have a friend like Margaret. I'm so lucky that I do.