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May 12, 2023

A Book Club of Two

We wrap up this year’s Mother’s Day Author Blog series with Fiona Davis, whose six historical novels are set in iconic New York City buildings: THE MAGNOLIA PALACE, THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE, THE CHELSEA GIRLS, THE MASTERPIECE, THE ADDRESS and THE DOLLHOUSE. Her latest work of fiction, THE SPECTACULAR, releases on June 13th and takes place amidst the glitz and glamour of Radio City Music Hall in its mid-century heyday. Fiona says, “I’ve learned that small moments are key, both in writing novels and appreciating life as it is, not as we wish it to be.” In our final Mother’s Day blog post of 2023, Fiona talks about one of those small moments, as she and her mother have become “a book club of two.”


As a child, my family moved around a lot. The one constant was knowing that every Saturday we’d stop by the local library and pick up a stack of books. My brother and I were avid readers, maybe because it was much easier to make friends with fictional characters rather than face a new school full of strangers. My all-time favorite story was THE SECRET GARDEN, about a girl who moves from India to the Yorkshire moors of England and has to figure out her place in the world.

My mother’s favorite book is HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, about a Welsh mining community. As the daughter of a Welshman, no doubt the story brought back memories of her own childhood in Great Britain, where she lived until the day she married my father and they flew off to Canada and then eventually settled in America.

My brother and I carried on the tradition. After our parents moved to Texas while we were in college, I headed for the bright lights of New York City, 1,500 miles away, and he landed in Salt Lake City. We get along perfectly well, but striking out for distant shores and calling every Sunday to say hello was simply a given.

During COVID, as my mother handled my father’s growing dementia with patience and the requisite stiff upper lip, I found myself wishing I could be closer and help out in some way. She talked about how she often woke up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep but happy to get lost in a good book. The next Mother’s Day, I bought her a Book of the Month membership, and it’s become our monthly ritual: deciding upon which one to choose and then discussing it after we’ve finished. It’s a small moment, but one that connects us, and the excitement in her voice makes me feel less far away.

I’ve learned that small moments are key, both in writing novels and appreciating life as it is, not as we wish it to be. And sometimes small moments are better than anything you’d find in a book, like when my father recently turned to my mother and said, “I think we should get married.”

The fact that they’d been married for 61 years was lost in the fog of dementia, but the romance was still kicking. My mother answered, “That’s probably a good idea,” and turned back to her novel with a smile.