An important part of being a community bookstore is hosting authors – emerging and established, and all of us in between. Playing host or hostess can be a great deal of fun. It also can be exhausting and often stressful. We plan these events to hopefully bring more people into the store. More importantly, I want a stream of visitors to come meet these wonderful authors who bravely expose themselves through their art.

A Visit From Marta McDowell

This past Saturday we hosted an author signing and talk with Marta McDowell. Marta is a master gardener and author of her second book, Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: The Plants and Places that Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales. The book is a beautiful visual tribute to the flora and fauna in Beatrix Potter’s gardens and also filled with illustrations from her classic children’s tales. Beatrix Potter comes alive through letters and journal entries as well as a detailed history laid out like a garden path enticing readers to follow along.Beatrix Potter Gardening Life

The signing wasn’t especially busy but those who came were excited to hear about Marta’s work. Marta shared highlights from the book such as Ms. Potter’s dedication to the environment and that Britain’s National Trust, now cares for the Potter farm and property.

Beatrix Potter was a unique woman who led a fascinating life. Marta is also a unique woman who leads a fascinating life and listening to her talk about her latest project as well as others was a real treat. Beatrix Potter and Marta McDowell might have been friends had they lived at the same point in time in the same corner of the globe. Marta’s garden work has appeared in a variety of publications including Woman’s Day, Fine Gardening and The New York Times.  You can learn more about her and her work on her website, http://www.martamcdowell.com/

During her visit to The Book Garden, Marta discussed how her book came into existence, her late appreciation of Ms. Potter’s work and much more. We drank tea and ate cookies. A lovely afternoon was had by all.

Just before the end of Ms. McDowell’s visit a young girl of about 7 ventured into the shop. She saw the Beatrix Potter stories displayed next to Marta’s new book and was drawn to the woman sitting beside the stacks of stories.

The two chatted and then the girl asked, “Are you going to write any new books?” pointing to a copy of The World of Beatrix Potter. Marta looked a little confused but then realized what was happening. “Oh no dear. I’m not Beatrix Potter. She hasn’t written in a long time. I wrote a new book about her,” she smiled, adding that there was a woman who is writing new books about Peter Rabbit. Emma Thompson recently penned The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Others in the room giggled but the young lady wasn’t deterred by her mistake and continued her conversation with Marta. A while later she came into the front room and proudly showed her parents the autographed bookmark she’d received.

A few days later I received this photograph from Marta. Moments like this remind me yet again that sometimes it isn’t about having a room full of people, sometimes it is just about who is in the room.

Marta McDowell

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