If you have read my latest book, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, you may recognize the ladies in these photos. Well, not “recognize them” exactly, but their names will sound familiar to you.
In the book, the village of Ivy Hill has a “secret society” of women who get together to help and support each other as women managing businesses of various kinds. I named them The Ladies Tea & Knitting Society. This group was inspired by my favorite real-life book club: The Tantalizing Ladies Tea: A Christian Book Coterie.
The Ladies Tea & Knitting Society: Fun Facts
Beverly “B.” Snyder, laundress (Bev did her own research and discovered that laundresses were the lowest of the low. Whoops!)
Kristine Klein, piano tuner (I’ve since learned that Kristine hates playing the piano and did all she could to shorten her lessons as a child.)
The Cook sisters, lace makers (Not sisters in real life, but couldn’t resist making them sisters in the book, since they have the same last name.)
Mrs. Mennell, almshouse matron (Shari is a talented quilter–see her gorgeous quilted trivet below. Might have to work that into a future book…)
Phyllis Burlingame, carter (At least this fictional cart driver is not the club member who recently drove onto someone’s lawn! 🙂 )
Becky Morris, sign-painter (Oh, Becky. You are such a good sport and so perfectly cast as the group’s chief mischief maker!)
(Kelly and “Mrs. O’Brien” were sadly absent this time. But Bev’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter filled in as special guests.)
I know I’ve posted about this book club and their amazing afternoon teas in the past, and Lord willing I will do so again, because visits with them have been a highlight of each new book release for several years now.
This year was especially memorable, as we had fun discussing their namesakes in the book. Though they are not main characters, the women add humor and warm bonds of friendship to the story. The characters are fictional, of course, and in some cases I had to tweak their names for historical credibility. Nor do their situations in life mirror reality. Even so, it has been such a pleasure to honor these women and their friendship in this small way.
I fear I made the ladies nervous this time, because I kept a notebook beside me and threatened to put their humorous lines into the next book. I did take a few notes, but mostly I was too busy laughing at all their shenanigans!
Then, as the afternoon wound down, Sherri added a poignant note by reading a lovely letter she wrote about what it meant to them to find themselves characters in a novel. I promised not to post the letter without editing it, but will paraphrase a few lines: “We went from crazy book club friends to being characters in a novel. You put the spotlight on our friendship and we became REAL… like grown up Velveteen Rabbits. You made us realize we really do love each other and love being together….”
Their pleasure in each other’s company is readily evident, and it’s a privilege to join them, as I’m sure other authors who’ve done so could attest to as well. I found Sherri’s letter quite touching, especially as I’m a lifelong admirer of the book, The Velveteen Rabbit. Have you read it?
These ladies have often blessed me with special gifts, including wonderful handmade items (so much talent in this group). This year was no exception. And creative Mrs. Snyder made it extra special by making laundry soap and sweet-smelling hand soap with charming Ivy Hill labels. I love them! For fun, I’d like to give away two bars of heavenly smelling, handcrafted Ivy Hill soap. To enter, just leave a comment below.
Do you have a close group of friends or special book club? Hope so! Thanks for reading.