A few weeks ago, I asked a favorite novelist to share one of her best book club moments. Perhaps it was unfair of me to ask someone to chose just ONE. But here is the delightful response from dear friend and most talented writer, Kelly O’Connor McNees, author of THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT.

The Glenview Book Club

This seemingly simple question—What is your all-time favorite book club experience?—is actually pretty difficult for me to answer. Over the last year or so, I’ve visited with dozens and dozens of readers in person and via Skype. Each time I’ve been thrilled with the generosity of these women and their insightful questions and discussions about Louisa May Alcott’s life and work. Of all the outreach we authors do to connect with readers—blogging, posting on Facebook and Twitter, writing guest posts for book blogs, reading and signing in bookstores and libraries and at book festivals—visiting with book clubs is my favorite. How can I choose just one “best”?

Celebrating the paperback release of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott with Kelly in Chattanooga!

The most inspiring, dynamic club I’ve met recently has to be the ladies of a book club in Glenview, Illinois. Fate brought us together—and by fate, I mean I invited myself to their meeting. I can be surprisingly rude that way. A few members attended a reading I did at a bookstore in a nearby town, and as I signed their books, one of them mentioned their club was planning to read The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott for their next meeting. “Can I come too?” I asked, disregarding everything my mother taught me about manners. Fortunately for me and my pride, they were up for it.

Here is what I learned when I arrived: This club has been meeting for 30 years! Some of the original members have moved away, and new readers have joined, but the book club has been going steady for three decades. Can you imagine how many life events, happy and sad, this group has experienced over the years? Babies and weddings and funerals . . . I told them that they themselves, the story of their club, would make an awfully good novel.

Oh, how we gabbed! About Louisa and Little Women, about her “deadbeat” father Bronson, as one member put it, about how things have changed for women in the last 150 years—and how they haven’t. They told me about some of the books they’ve read over the years, the books they loved and hated, and the books they can’t remember. The hours flew by. Great quantities of wine and cake disappeared.

Kelly enjoying an evening with the Glenview Book Club

When I finally said my reluctant goodbyes and headed out to my car, I checked my phone. There were two messages from my husband. The first was from about nine p.m. He sounded cheerful: “Well, you must be on your way home now. See you soon!” The second came in around ten. “Hi, sweetie. I’m just getting a little bit worried. You’ve been gone a really long time. You can’t possibly still be at that book club meeting—can you?”

I quickly called him back to explain that, indeed, it was very possible! I have a feeling the husbands of these ladies have been leaving voicemails like this for years. What a great night!

Visit Kelly’s blog for updates about the novel and to read interviews with writers.

Posted July 8, 2011 at 10:10 am · 4 comments · Leave a Comment


  1. bermudaonion (Kathy), July 8th, 2011, 11:30 am

    Wow, 30 years! That sounds like an awesome book club!!
  2. Anita, July 8th, 2011, 11:57 am

    Thanks Kelly for a wonderful memory, I can't imagine how wonderful being with a book club that long would be.
  3. Art Falcone, December 19th, 2014, 1:26 pm

    Art Falcone CELEBRATING BOOK CLUBS GUEST POST #1 with KELLY O’CONNOR McNEES | Susan Gregg Gilmore: Official Author Site
  4. Asics GEL-NOOSA TRI™ 9 Donne, January 7th, 2015, 2:41 pm

    Asics GEL-NOOSA TRI™ 9 Donne CELEBRATING BOOK CLUBS GUEST POST #1 with KELLY O’CONNOR McNEES | Susan Gregg Gilmore: Official Author Site

Leave a Comment

Susan Gregg Gilmore