Once a year I consider myself a lady who lunches.
I dress up, put on a smile, grab the checkbook and head to the annual Books and Brunch to join hundreds of other women, many of whom are just like me and can’t resist the urge to do something that involves both books and eating for an excellent cause. I will be there again on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Books and Brunch is the fundraiser for the Hinsdale-based Assistance League of Chicagoland West, the local chapter of Assistance League which directly serves the Greater Hinsdale/Clarendon Hills/Burr Ridge area, including Darien, Willowbrook, Western Springs, Lombard, West Chicago and Villa Park.
The 60-odd members of the league are women who enjoy putting their brains, hearts and hands to work serving the community. These are the women who get things done in other organizations and institutions throughout our community as well.
Meg Cooper and Maureen Hegarty, for example, are Books and Brunch co-chairs again. Jamie Marucha of Clarendon Hills joined the league earlier this year when she was looking for something to “fill the void” with her kids now off to college. Since then she has worked with the league’s Operation School Bell, which in the past several months has provided 1,728 elementary school students from 24 DuPage County schools — including students from Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills — with new winter coats, hats and gloves.
The work has been so rewarding, she enthused, because of getting to know the other league members when packing the coats, hats and gloves and also because of working directly with the children.
As to the “Books” part of the event, once again the authors are excellent. Margaret George is known to fans of historically accurate fiction as the writer of long but engaging and well-researched novels on Cleopatra, King Henry VIII and Mary Queen of Scots, to name a few. Elizabeth I: A Novel is her most recent work and was published to very good reviews in 2011.
Local restaurateur and Hinsdale resident Paul Virant has a well-deserved following, and this year he has published The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux with Kate Leahy. The chef and force behind Vie Restaurant in Western Springs will speak on cooking and writing.
Mystery writer Laura Caldwell once worked as a Chicago civil trial lawyer. She has created the Izzy McNeil mysteries and has also written the nonfiction book Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him, the account of a Chicago teen who was coerced into confessing to a crime he did not commit and spent more than five years in jail before Caldwell and another attorney helped free him.
As in past years, Books and Brunch will be held at The Abbington on Butterfield Road and Route 53 in Glen Ellyn. Doors open at 10 a.m. There are tables and tables with fabulous silent auction items, a boutique with more than a dozen vendors selling everything from belts and bags to Santa Clauses, jewelry of all sorts and distinctive clothing. Of course the featured authors will be there to sign copies of their books.
Tickets for Books and Brunch cost $80 each. There are a variety of raffle tickets and prizes. For more information and to buy tickets online, visit www.alcw.org. the league’s offices are located on 120 E. Ogden Ave. in Hinsdale. The phone number is (630) 321-2529.