Six Women and a Book Club: ‘Tea Time,’ Wine and Sex Toys
Six women, risqué books and a sex toy demonstration. This isn’t your mama’s book club.
But for Lorraine Michell, Mary Fitzgerald, Adele Rhoades, Mary Rhoades (Mary R.), Paula Holzworth and Carissa Fuller from Pennsylvania, it’s all about getting together for laughs. Most of all and for most of the group, they share a love of books. The half dozen women explain that Marie was the impetus for the informal group of readers to organize. And they all came to Reader Weekend in Rhode Island as the proverbial icing on the cake (Lorraine doesn’t read much but was there to see Rhode Island). By the way, Mary Fitzgerald and Adele Rhoades are Mary Rhoades daughters, Paula is her cousin and Carissa is her niece.
The group is larger than the six who attended Reader Weekend, but they all couldn’t attend the weekend festivities. Mary R.’s other daughter, Tammy, for instance, couldn’t come because she had just had a baby. And members Kelly Barber and Luann Rafferty couldn’t join the group because they had prior commitments. They certainly were not happy about missing out on all the fun the weekend had to offer. Initially Paula and Mary R. had committed to attending the event. Once they posted it on their book club Facebook page, however, it wasn’t tough to sell the others.
Adele, the group’s unofficial spokesperson, and Mary R., a close second, say the group began because they were all avid readers, often sharing books as they vacationed on the shore in Wildwood, NJ. They realized they liked reading the same types of books and authors. Soon, they were hooked on Marie’s books, too.
As they became more organized as a group, the women started a private Facebook page on which only members and their friends could post. They post about books, where they’re reading and “some pictures that we think would be nice McCarthy men.”
Carissa says it was Marie and her Gansett Island series, in particular, that helped them solidify as a group. Members had all read different books and different series, “but we all read Marie, and that’s what kind of brought us together” Mary R. explains.
The women say they like Marie’s books because the characters “aren’t too over-the-top.” They and the plots Marie creates are believable. Quite simply, “you could relate to it,” Mary R. says. They like a normal guy who meets a great woman and treats her like a queen (“like Joe and Janey,” Adele says longingly).
Adele, who is divorced, says she lives through the fantasies she finds in her beloved books. She has a terrific memory and had, in fact, created a list of who’s who on Gansett before Marie published one for her readers. Adele is also a home care nurse and when she knows a new Gansett Island book is coming out, like Love After Dark, she schedules her patients to allow herself time to read. Catching up with the book club members days after the release of Love After Dark, they were already reading the Gansett Island book that has gained the highest number of preorders in the entire series. “No surprise that Adele and Mary R. are already finished and they loved it,” Paula says. “Those of us who are still reading it are totally enjoying it!! It makes us feel like we are back at Block Island.”
Members create club events based on the books they read as opposed to solely meeting at a house to discuss a book. For instance, they’ve had a night of painting, visited a vineyard and attended a nearby author’s convention. And Carissa’s friend has been selected to be a cover model for the book of an author they read so she and some members hope to go to Montana for the cover shoot.
The sex toy demonstration was in honor of Tiffany from Marie’s Longing for Love, book 7 in the Gansett Island series and a book by another author. It’s really a type of continuing education, they agree, to have these events based on the books they read. And the events are held in a no-men zone.
“We have fun, we get snacks, we meet, we drink some wine (and always have a designated driver),” Adele explains. “It’s a ladies’ night.”
While they all may read different books, the group selects one to discuss at the ‘meeting’. Whoever selects the book to be discussed comes up with ten questions and the member who gets the most answers correct chooses the next month’s book, while the person who gets the least correct sends a $5.00 Amazon gift certificate to the winner, who uses it to purchase the book to be read for the next meeting. It’s normally the five women readers from Reader Weekend who are the dedicated members at each meeting. Floaters come and go.
The women had designed and wore pink shirts featuring the iconic Gansett Island lighthouse with “Marie Force Gansett Island Book Tour 2015” on the front and “The Tiki Bar Gansett Island” on the back for their ferry ride to Block Island during Reader Weekend 2015. “We have shirts made for everything,” including other book-related events, Mary R. says.
The club started as a meeting to discuss a book, but it’s evolved to become much more. They talk about their families and their lives. They have tea time, where they take a shot of an adult beverage. And they laugh. A lot.
For the Rhoades, the books are a family affair, often discussed (much to the chagrin, it appears, of other family members) during the Sunday family get-togethers. Adele has the book talk fever worse than her mom or sister and has been threatened if she continues to talk about it at the family gathering, the women joke.
The group agrees Reader Weekend was great.
“This is the first time in this area and it’s absolutely beautiful,” Carissa said while crossing Narragansett Bay on the ferry ride. “It’s amazing. Absolutely amazing.” On a more serious note, as moms, Carissa says, many of the club members live their lives for everyone else most of the time. The book club, she says, is something they do just for themselves. And it’s a judgment-free zone.
Cheryl Serra is Marie’s director of publicity—and one of her bridesmaids 23 years ago!