Early in the new year we met up for dinner with Steve and Jamie and Kris and Tamara, Americans all, and Jamie and Tamara invited me to their book club the next night. I was a bit wary, as I tend to have (as I like to think) rather rarefied literary taste, but I wanted to spend more time with Jamie and Tamara, so I gave it a go. Their book club is made up of American, Canadian, Australian, Irish, and English girls of about my age, and the membership has grown as everyone brings new friends into the fold. I feel so lucky to have been part of this group, as the girls are absolutely amazing. They all lead such full and interesting lives, with travel itineraries spanning the globe, and they represent all sorts of different careers and interests, as well. I didn’t have time to read the book for that meeting, but I tagged along to meet everyone. That night was a special book club event, because one of the girls had gotten all our names put on the guest list for an exclusive club in Kensington. So we sat around and talked about books and had snacks, then everyone got all dolled up for the club. I was dressed nicely but not as nice as I should have been, apparently, but oh well. It was fun to see all the cute party dresses and high heels that everyone changed into. We all cabbed over to the club and descended into the darkness for what must have been a few hours, because by the time we left it was very, very late, and we had had a lot to drink (did I mention the girl who got us on the list was friends with some sort of party organizer who invited us to his table in the VIP room with free drinks?). Jamie, Tamara, and I went to McDonald’s for something to soak up the booze, then we all caught separate cabs home. It was quite a night. I think that was enough clubbing to last me the rest of my life, though. It was a hell of an experience.
I went to book club meetings every month after that until we left London, and I always had a great time and got to read some really good books, too. I also started paying a bit more attention to new books that were coming out and we started spending more time in our local book shop. In late January Andrew surprised me with tickets at Daunt Books for a lecture by A.S. Byatt, one of my favorite contemporary writers. She shared the stage with one of the editors of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters, which had just been published, and the two of them talked about Van Gogh and art and writing. It was very exciting, and I got to meet Ms. Byatt afterwards. I got her to sign a copy of her new book and told her I had written a paper about her in college. I think she liked that. After the lecture the surprise date night continued with dinner reservations at Galvin, where we discussed art and literature over steak tartare, salade lyonnaise, and various other delicious bites. I felt on top of the world.