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Bookish belles

Literary Guild heartened by first season’s success
It’s been an encounter of the intellectual –– and social –– kind for the Ennis Literary Guild, a whole year of adventures in reading and fellowship.
From studying the classics to appreciating modern fiction, with special appearances and performances by noted authors and actors thrown in for poetic measure, the organization founded in early 2007 by Joanne Ventura, Nancy Thomas and Sandra Wakefield has met with a successful inaugural season.
“We are very pleased with our first year,” Ventura said.
The formation of the group is a book-loving dream come true for the trio of friends and their growing membership.
Asked how the Literary Guild came about, Ventura said it was a natural development, given the women’s interest in literature.
“We just love reading and each other,” Ventura explained “And we wanted to share that with others. The Literary Guild is about friendship as well as learning.”
Thomas and Wakefield agreed.
“I think the Literary Guild has a met a need,” Wakefield said. “It’s a warm atmosphere of discovering great works together and sharing ideas.”
Thomas added the group has been a success “because it allows people to gather and exchange ideas, and it’s a way to share, not just about books but about art and different cultures.”
In keeping with their desire to maintain an intimate atmosphere, the women said they’re seeking an alternative venue for Guild meetings for the 2009 program schedule.
“The Ennis Public Library has been good to us but we really want a smaller, more personal environment,” said Ventura. “It has nothing to do with being dissatisfied at all.”
Although details have yet to be finalized, in the future the Guild will most likely meet at area restaurants and tearooms, such as Wildflower Café or La Galleria. Although public programs will be switched from the library to local eateries, the group will continue hosting readings and discussions in the homes of the three founders.
“The warmer atmosphere of a little café or tearoom is really what our original vision was,” Ventura added.
Of the three women, Thomas has been an Ennisite the longest.
Born in Canada and raised in Harlingen, Tex., she moved with her husband, Mayor Russell Thomas, to Ennis in 1987. A member of one of the early boards of the Ennis Arts Commission, promoting culture and entertainment has always been important to Thomas. Apart from the Guild, she is on the board of the Ellis County Museum, is a member of the Ennis Heritage Society and a member of the Ennis Garden Club, which she serves as chair of the City and Parks Beautification Committee. She is also a member of the First United Methodist Church of Ennis.
“You make culture where you find it,” Thomas said. “You make your own happiness. I hate it when I hear people moan that there’s nothing to do in Ennis. Of course there is.”
Regarding the Guild, she said she always thought a local book club open to all women was a good idea, and was glad to join Ventura and Wakefield in making the notion a reality.
Ventura is a native of Dallas, where she lived until moving to Ennis in 1999 with her husband Sam to renovate the historic Moore House, now their home, at 400 W. Denton St.
“We appreciate the slower pace of Ennis,” Ventura said. “I had never been part of a small community and it has been wonderful for us. We love Ennis.”
Ventura is also active beyond her work with the Guild. She is second vice-president of the Ennis Garden Club, a member of the Historic Landmark Commission, the Ennis Arts Commission, the Ennis Heritage Society and First United Methodist Church.
Ventura, who said she’s especially fond of English and Russian literature, explained that having a club like the Literary Guild is special from the perspective of reading but also because of the opportunity it has presented for making new friends.
“It’s not just about books,” she added. “It’s about people.”
Wakefield is still new to Ennis, having relocated to the Bluebonnet City from Arizona at Christmas 2006. A North Carolina native, Wakefield spent some years in England.
“Like Joanne, I had never lived in a small town before,” she said. “But it is so satisfying to me. I feel so blessed to be here.”
Though in Ennis less than two years, Wakefield has lost little time assimilating in her new hometown.
In addition to the Guild, she’s a member of the Ennis Arts Commission, the Ennis Heritage Society, the Ennis Garden Club, the Ennis Chamber of Commerce and Tabernacle Baptist Church of Ennis. She is also a volunteer at the Christian Women’s Job Corps of Ellis County, where she teaches a course on speech and manners.
Wakefield said when she first heard about the Literary Guild she was determined to help: “I called Joanne and told her ‘Count me in.’”
Wakefield’s gung-ho attitude matches that of her fellow founders of the Literary Guild, who are looking forward to final programs of the 2008 season and a new schedule for next year.
A reading and discussion –– called a “shared inquiry” –– of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is planned at Ventura’s residence on August 7 from 7-8 p.m., and another shared inquiry (of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley) is scheduled for Wakefield’s home on October 2 from 7-8 p.m.
Programs for 2009 are now being arranged.
Annual membership in the Ennis Literary Guild is $65 for five events (or $15 at the door).
For more information, call 972-878-9888, 972-878-7300 or 972-875-4535.

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Posted by on Jun 26 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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