I shook raindrops from my umbrella on the steps of Historic Trinity United Methodist Church. I was there for the 7th Ursrey Memorial Lecture: An Evening With Ann Hood. One of our frequent Southern summer thunder storms had blown in and we were wondering whether it would keep people from coming downtown to attend the event presented by the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home.
A substantial crowd defied the weather, bought books, and lined the pews. I’m a new Ann Hood reader, and an enthusiastic one. After favorite author Alice Hoffman recommended Ann’s anthology Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, I read it. The essays of writers driven to cast-on compelled me to upload The Knitting Circle to my Kindle. The novel addresses loss, grief, love, and the human condition against the backdrop of a group of knitters. As in life, each character has their own sorrow.
Ann Hood’s writing touched me. I was reading her when friend and fellow writer, Beverly Willett, texted that Ann was coming to Savannah. I embrace these synchronistic gifts.
Ann’s presentation transfixed us and thunder and lightening were forgotten.
Brimming with life, smart, funny, and barely contained behind the pulpit, Ann Hood explained, “I write a story so I could understand the world where I lived.”
Her love affair with books, which she writes about in her latest book, Morningstar: Growing Up with Books, often mirrors my own. I was eight when I read my mother’s copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
Ann explained that from the first page, the four sister’s personalities were revealed, and that if you wanted to be a writer (and I did) you were Jo. True, but for the sake of full disclosure, I secretly feared I was Amy.
These childhood loves and influences run deep. My main character in All Things Unusual is called Lulu but her given name is Louisa May.
I, too, like Ann, read Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk. When I cleaned out my parent’s and brother’s home after their deaths, I searched their bookshelves and was crushed to discover that somewhere along their journey it must have disappeared at a yard sale.
Beverly Willett gave Ann a beautiful introduction and blogged about it here.