A mother’s midlife memoir paired with a gardening book?
What, you might well ask, could these two volumes possibly have in common? And why would a married mom of two and a resolutely single, encyclopedically knowledgeable, former-Martha-Stewart-publishing-executive-turned-rural-hermit ever become writing partners, let alone dear friends?
Well, if age teaches us anything, it’s that life is full of surprises – and that the relationships that bloom and blossom in the langorous afternoon of life are often quite different from those of its bright morning. No longer bound to our friends by social stratifications, proximity, or the shared duties of parenthood, we find ourselves connected, instead, at a soul level. “Friendship,” writes C.S. Lewis, “is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
And so it was with Margaret Roach and me. Coincidence brought us together (we share a publisher, and our editors had given us galleys of each other’s last books). But it wasn’t until we met in person, at a bookseller’s convention two years ago, that we each experienced that unmistakable “click” that signals this is someone who is meant to be in my life.
Reading Margaret’s work, I knew right away I was in the presence of a kindred spirit — someone who finds pleasure in the small moments, who draws sustenance and inspiration from the frogs in her pond and the flowers at her doorstep, who is more at home stirring a pot of home-made soup at the stove than hobnobbing with fellow writers at literary soirees.
Becoming her friend for real, spending overnights in her guest cottage and sharing countless dinners together, only confirmed what I’d already suspected: different as our lives may be on the surface (Margaret never has to postpone a writing project because a son needs help on his college application; I wouldn’t know a Chaenomeles x superba if one was in full bloom in my own yard), we nevertheless have much to offer each other – gifts of time and support and perspective on the universal challenges (and joys!) of growing older and, hopefully, just a wee bit wiser.
So maybe it’s not so surprising after all, that when we exchanged manuscripts of our most recent books, we each found ourselves scribbling excited “Yes!” notes and exclamation points in the margins. There were so many common themes that we had to laugh. And then we realized that of course our readers would probably enjoy getting to know one another as much as the two of us had.
Since our books came out last month, Margaret and I have appeared together at bookstores all over New England – and we can now report that our hunch was right. The conversations are lively, our joint readings fun for all, and the connections and cross-overs always surprising and delightful.
So, consider this your invitation to come join us! Win our books (signed, personalized copies), hear us speak, or if you can’t make it to one of the events below — jump in to our free online chat starting Monday on Goodreads.
Duets with Margaret
The goodreads.com event
Goodreads is like a giant online book club that never sleeps. It’s amazing, and it’s free; a great place to get tips from other keen readers on books to look out for, according to your interests, and to “talk” to authors. Margaret Roach (author most recently of “The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life”) and I will be there Monday February 25 for an open forum, to answer your questions about our new (or older) books, about writing, or about whatever you feel like asking about.
In our in-person events recently, the topics have ranged from finding midlife friendship, to raising adolescent boys (or unruly plants), to recipes we’ve swapped and books we’ve both read, to our writing “process” (Margaret paces, I sit still for hours on end)—no kidding, that wide a range, and more. Fun! So come share whatever’s on your mind. Won’t you sign up and join us?
The in-person events
- Sunday, February 24, 3 PM: POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER. Reading and conversation with author Margaret Roach from our two new books, her “The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening, and Life” and my “Magical Journey” An Apprenticeship in Contentment,” at the Concord (MA) Bookshop.
- Thursday, February 28, 7 PM: Reading and conversation with author Margaret Roach at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, NY, hosted by memoir-teacher and author Marion Roach Smith.
- Sunday, March 3, afternoon: Two events, same location: 2 PM, “The 365-Day Garden” slide lecture by Margaret Roach. 3 PM, a reading and conversation with me and Margaret from our two new books, at Battenkill Books, Cambridge, NY.
How to win the signed books
To enter to win a signed copy of “The Backyard Parables” and one of “Magical Journey,” too, simply comment below, answering the question:
What’s the last book you read that you recommended afterward to a friend, and why?
Then to double your chances to win—two sets are being given away on each of our websites—scurry over to Margaret’s book giveaway now and paste your comment there as well.
No answer to the question, or simply feeling shy? No worry; just say “count me in” or something to that effect, and we will. Winners will be drawn at random after entries close at midnight on Wednesday, February 27. Good luck to all.