A charmingly open young man with a ready smile brought us what he hoped would not be a hopeless challenge — naming a book with no notes pertaining to the actual book, but with a few very vague clues in the vicinity. Aida and I felt our double-team had a good shot… so, lay it down! OK. He had been browsing through earlier with a friend. Preoccupied with a book he eventually decided to buy, he was (darn it! he says ruefully,) only partly attentive when his companion showed him a book by a female author whose previous book she had enjoyed. They went on to have a very pleasant lunch in the cafe and, flush with joie de vivre, he was inspired to surprise her with a gift of the book. The only thing he remembered was that the photo of the youngish author was so attractive (and blonde) that he thought “actress” rather than “writer”, and her previous book had been about a marriage or an affair. Ooof…this is indeed a very wide field. I can hear the whir of voracious reader Aida’s brain spinning through her catalogue. She names every female author currently in stock who she thinks could be considered “actress-y”: Isabel Allende, Jane Greene, Haven Kimmel, Anita Shreve, Alice Hoffman….no, nope, no again. The Story of a Marriage? The Amateur Marriage? A Reliable Wife? No, no and no– Robert Goolrick is definitely not a young blonde. Do you know how many books there are about marriages and the affairs they spawn? I see the steam running out and provoke the second wind by exclaiming our small size gives us the advantage. That book has to be close by! Where was your friend standing…here by the center island? That’s new hardcover fiction. I start looking at back cover photos of every female author in arm’s reach. Our challenger chides himself: “I have to be more attentive.” (So sweet!)
As I churn through photos, Aida appears to be in a mild trance. Suddenly she reaches past me for Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. Opening it to the thumbnail photo inside the back flap she says, “Is this it?” YES! How did you think of this, I marvel. She shrugs. “It just came to me.” He’s thrilled…”I love you guys!”. We love you too.