The weather on Wednesday had been abominable, and I was secretly terrified that no-one at all would come along to my sixth Inspirational Conversation at Ultimo library. I needn't have worried. I should have known I could rely on the pulling power of Charlotte Wood, one of Australia's most acclaimed authors, and one of my personal favourites. Every seat was taken, and the brave audience were hanging on Charlotte's every word. It was an absolutely lovely night, filled with warmth and wisdom. Charlotte is as engaging and surprising in person as she is on the page.
Audience luminaries included actor Joy Hopwood, authors P. M. Newton and Felicity Castagna, and Metropolitan Community Church minister Robert Clark. I don't mention the fabulous Mr. Noodlies, because he kind of belongs to me. He is, however, a committed Charlotte Wood fan too.
We had come together to chat about comfort, inspired by the stories in her recent book about food, Love & Hunger. Charlotte loves food, but most of all she loves sharing food with friends, and she is an inveterate dinner party host. Except she doesn't like to call them "dinner parties." That appellation, she says, is far too formal and daunting. She much prefers to share a meal, cooking up one or two simple but delicious dishes and supplementing them with good bread, olives, wine and perhaps some chocolate at the end.
Of course, we talked books. Charlotte spoke about her enthusiasm for the delightfully ecentric English writer Alice Thomas Ellis, and for the reasonably obscure (at least to me) Sylvia Townsend Warner. She also sang the praises of Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety, a book she chatted about on the First Tuesday Book Club and caused to become an unexpected bestseller in Australia.
|Wallace Stegner, an author Charlotte says we all should read|
Charlotte's message was one of simplicty. Simplify your friendships, your obligations, your reading, your cooking and your eating. Do things because you love them, not because you are trying to impress. And that is a wonderful message to come away with.