"I love this book store!"
        —Elizabeth Berg

Photo of group
Doug Bella, author Brigid Pasulka, Heidi Schmidt and David Hunt
Author Appearances

Julia Glass
John Searles
Roy Diblik
Edward Kelsey Moore
Elinor Lipman
Brigid Pasulka
Philip Burnham
Mary Ann Taylor Hall
Robert Hellenga
Fred Chappell
Jane Hamilton
Scott Turow
Elizabeth Berg
Robert Alexander
Dawn Turner Trice
Wendell Minor
P. Allen Smith
Charles Baxter
Elizabeth Rosner
James Baker Hall

Town House has been pleased to host many wonderful authors in our "Dinner with the Author" series. This ongoing series allows authors to share a wonderful dinner with their audience in the intimate setting of Town House Café. The dinner itself is a tribute to the author as our chefs and bookstore staff pick a reference to food in the author's work to inspire the meal.

After dinner, authors read and then answer questions from the audience. Our author list has included Scott Turow, John Searles, Julia Glass, Elinor Lipman, Robert Hellenga, Fred Chappell, Jane Hamilton, Elizabeth Berg, Dawn Turner Trice, Wendell Minor, Charles Baxter, Joel Greenberg, Elizabeth Rosner, James Baker Hall and Mary Ann Taylor Hall.

For more information on upcoming author events, see our Calendar of Events.

Doris Hunt with John Searles.
Photo from Moore event
Heidi, author Ed Moore, and David
Deb Brod
Deb Brod (r) with fan
Doug, David, Heidi and Cheryl
Doug, David, and Heidi with author Cheryl Tan at
our Author Dinner.
Julia Glass
P. Allen Smith at Town House Books signing.
Robert Alexander (r) with David Hunt outside Town House.
P. Allen Smith at Town House Books signing.
Jane Hamilton (r) meets readers at Town House.
Photo: Town H ouse Books
Julia Glass reads at our Author Dinner
P. Allen Smith at Town House Books signing.
P. Allen Smith (r) signs books and meets readers at
Town House.
Elizabeth Berg (r) meets one of her avid readers at Town House's "Dinner with the Author."
Dawn Turner Trice signs books and greets customers in the Garden Room of Town House Books.
Mary Ann Taylor Hall signs books while a blue grass band plays outside in honor of her character,
Carrie Marie, the fiddler in her book, Come and Go Molly Snow.
Award winning author/illustrator Wendell Minor meets customers and signs books.
Fred Chappell reads to a sold out audience at
Town House Café.
P. Allen Smith at Town House Books.
America's favorite gardener, P. Allen Smith (l), is introduced by
Town House Books owner David Hunt at our container planting
demonstration and book signing.

Author Shares An Intimate Evening With Area Fans
(Originally published in The Republican. Written by Rita Hoover.)

If you ask David Hunt, owner of Town House Books in St. Charles, what to serve a best-selling author who has come to have an intimate dinner with her biggest fans, don't be surprised if he answers: "Burnt toast."

Yes, that's what was served last Tuesday to Elizabeth Berg, one of the country's most popular female fiction writers, whose highly acclaimed novels include "Pull of the Moon," "Talk Before Sleep" and "Open House," an Oprah's Book Club selection.

And yet, shortly after her charred entrée was served, Berg proclaimed to a jam-packed crowd at the Town House Café that not only did she feel privileged to be invited there, but that "I love this book store!"

Perhaps her good-natured reaction was because the burnt toast was merely a joke—a reference to a passage in her latest novel, "Never Change," which she was in town to promote.

As Hunt explained, whenever Town House Books presents an evening of its "Dinner with the Author" series, he and his employees scour the featured book for food ideas to use as inspiration for that night's meal. In Berg's case, he said, they could find no culinary reference in "Never Change" other than the burnt toast.

However, the pumpkin soup and other autumnal selections on the real dinner menu still managed to honor the book, whose jacket features a photograph of beautiful fall leaves. The leaves are symbolic of how nature can bring beauty to maturity, often referred to as the "autumn of life," and even to loss—a gentle message contained within "Never Change."

Berg's works have been described as "provocative, engaging novels that strike a deep emotional chord with women everywhere." Judging from the many fans, mostly female, who lined up to meet her that evening, the critics were right on the mark.

Rachel Krueger had come all the way from Naperville along with her friend, Vivian, from Wheaton. "We love this book store," Krueger said, clutching an armload of Berg's books. "There's just nothing like it anywhere else."

Krueger had copies of the books for her daughter and sisters, "and one as a gift to myself," she admitted.

"She's so real," said Laurie Bohlke of St. Charles.

Jean Boze, also of St. Charles, enthusiastically agreed. "Her characters remind me of everyday people. They talk like everyday people."

Berg said one fan that night gave her a compliment she'll forever remember. "This woman told me she was so excited to meet me, it was like when the kids got to see Barney."

Town House Books has been holding its "Dinner with the Author" series for several years now, Hunt said, explaining that invitations are given to authors whose works are deeply loved by a store employee or who the store has helped grow in popularity, regardless of their fame and stature. "It's not a prerequisite to be on the bestseller list," he said.

It didn't take long to become obvious that Berg fell in the "deeply loved" category. Instead of posing questions to Berg, several audience members poured out praise for her past works and noted how the ways in which her characters coped have helped them feel less alone when coping with their own lives. The author seemed genuinely touched by their comments, thanking them for letting her know that her writing has made a difference.

Typically authors at a bookstore event will read selections from their latest work, but Berg chose to do something else.

"I think that our hearts have been battered enough these past few days," said the soft-spoken author, referring to the tragic events of September 11. Instead of reading from "Never Change," which deals with a terminal illness, Berg treated the crowd to the debut reading of a piece that will appear in a future collection of her short stories.

After the reading, Berg spoke about her own writing process. For her, she explained, it's often "like dreaming," the ideas just seem to materialize. She likened the idea of sitting down and writing a novel to driving a car on a long trip. "You don't have to be able to see the end, just what's next," she said, admitting that sometimes she begins a book with nothing more than "one line or a voice." Writing can also be like a type of therapy, she said.

Berg paused when asked whether the recent terrorist attack will influence her future work. "Tragedy," she said, "always influences life. (But) I write life affirming things." Berg said she will not be changed by the enormous struggles going on in the country.

Perhaps it was the praise, or perhaps it was the food; maybe it was the intimate atmosphere of the charming café, its walls lined with the faces of famous literary icons; or possibly it was the chance to share how much her audience means to her. We may never know. But as she ended the evening, Berg, gushing much like her fans, told the group, "This is the best reading I've ever done!"

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