“Make my day” emails land in my inbox quite frequently: a mail from a stranger who has read my novel Honor’s Shadow, and has enjoyed it enough to tell me about it. So when I heard from Estefania Diaz, I felt that familiar pleasure. I always write back to thank readers for their comments; and I asked Estefania how she had come across the book. Several emails followed, including Estefania telling me that she was recommending Honor’s Shadow to her book club; and she made a throwaway comment, “we’d love you to come.” So we arranged it: the book club was meeting on a day and in a location that was possible for me. Estefania decided she would make it a surprise and not tell her book club friends that I was attending. I got caught up in the energy and the excitement….
Estefania and her friends, all aged in their thirties, are unusual: they are a variety of nationalities, Spanish, German, French, Algerian/Morroccan. Debora Carnicer, who started the book club, has now moved to Australia, and attends the book club on Skype: she can be seen on screen in the picture above.
When I arrived, at the appointed time, at Estefania’s flat and rang the doorbell, I heard shrieks from inside: Estefania answered the door and told me that her friends knew there would be a surprise. They speculated that it might be a Tupperware porn party (whatever that is….). I hoped they wouldn’t be disappointed… The blank faces I met when I went into the sitting room were followed by polite, slightly puzzled smiles. “I’m Voula,” I said, which didn’t seem to register. “I wrote the book you’ve just read?” The penny dropped: there were shrieks of excitement and delight.
I was quickly provided with a glass of wine, and a plate to help myself to the delicious Spanish tapas buffet, including Spanish omelette, guacamole, and a lovely cake, made by Estefania.
The debate about the book was lively, intelligent and mature; Adriana had finished the book whilst on the Tube, and had publicly cried…. And there was much tutting about Madalena’s rather empty life and the nature of her marriage to Jack. It was a privilege to listen to their views on the characters and the plot, and how the story had affected them.
So, thank you, to Estefania, Katharina, Btissen, Ina, Victoria, Adriana, Angeline and Debora for making me so very welcome and generally making me feel like a celebrity!