The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society: A Novel
by Darien Gee

Published: 2013-01-29
Hardcover : 448 pages
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Perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Beth Hoffman, and Sarah Jio, this luminous novel from the author of Friendship Bread follows a group of fascinating women who form deep friendships through their love of scrapbooking--as memories are preserved, dreams are shared, and surprising truths ...
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Perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Beth Hoffman, and Sarah Jio, this luminous novel from the author of Friendship Bread follows a group of fascinating women who form deep friendships through their love of scrapbooking--as memories are preserved, dreams are shared, and surprising truths are revealed.

Welcome to Avalon, Illinois, Pop. 4,243

At Madeline's Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband's affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up--no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China--unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.
Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie's guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon's residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.
By turns humorous, wise, and deeply moving, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a luminous reminder that the things we hold most dear will last a lifetime.
"In a gathering of women there will always be compelling stories. Throw in a love of craft and these stories take on a whole new dynamic. There are shared secrets, support, encouragement, and love as the Avalon Ladies come to terms with the past and boldly step forward into the future."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber

Editorial Review

Essay by Author Darien Gee

Darien Gee

One of the biggest challenges for any writer is what to write about next. When I finished writing Friendship Bread, I knew there were more stories to be told from the small river town of Avalon, Illinois. Earlier drafts of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society saw a parade of characters, all wanting to meet you, the reader, and all wanting face time with me, their loyal transcriber. I was diligent in trying to capture their stories, but it soon became clear that four women in particular—Isabel, Ava, Frances and Yvonne—were meant to be the focus of this book. I also knew that I wanted to give Connie Colls, the young laundromat attendant turned tea salon manager, a chance to share her story as well.

The thread that runs throughout the book is Bettie Shelton, founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Her insistence that people take the time to scrapbook their memories may seem puzzling to some, but the truth is that scrapbooking, or memory keeping, plays a much bigger role in our lives than people may realize. Early scrapbooks, also known as commonplace books, emerged in the early 15th century and were ways for people to record personal interests, favorite quotes, letters, recipes and prayers. Author Mark Twain used to collect memorabilia from his travels and would clip articles about himself and his books and paste them into scrapbooks. Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin are known for having notebooks filled with sketches, notes, stories, and ideas. Men, as well as women, have found all sorts of ways to celebrate or remember the moments in their lives that comprise the person they have become.

So it's no surprise that memories and memory keeping are themes you’ll find woven throughout the novel. Happy memories, hurtful memories, lost memories, memories yet to be made. The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is about the choices we make in every moment and the consequences that follow, along with the unexpected joys that come when you least expect it. That I was able to jump off the computer and play with my own family’s photographs, a generous selection of gorgeous papers, colorful die cuts, and random embellishments, was a bonus. I was able to put together some much overdue albums of my own, journaling memories and moments I knew I didn’t want to forget.

There’s a wonderful saying by Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” New experiences and memories are waiting for us to encounter them. May we all continue to be the creator of our own lives.

Enjoy your visit to Avalon.


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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

Foreign adoption,
Dementia in an aging population
by GrandmaNaNa (see profile) 03/12/13

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

by Wvgirlygirl27 (see profile) 04/01/13
I made book marks out of yarn and scrapbook paper, then sealed them with contact paper to make them durable, to give out to members.
Scrapbooking & tea party
by GrandmaNaNa (see profile) 03/12/13
Tea room setting with china service and quiches would be appropriate. Perhaps have each member bring some photographs to create their own page for a scrapbook.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Was hard to finish.."by Wvgirlygirl27 (see profile) 04/01/13

I found this book confusing at times. I felt quite a few of the chapters were pointless and didn't contribute anything to the story. It was very hard to finish, I had to make myself keep reading. It had... (read more)

  "True to life challenges in small town America"by GrandmaNaNa (see profile) 03/12/13

The prevailing character Bettie Shelton elicits feelings of contempt to utter sorrow as signs of her dementia are played out amongst very well developed cast of characters in this enthralling story. The... (read more)

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