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March 2, 2011


Posted by Stephen

Lisa Verge Higgins is the author of The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship, in stores now. She writes about the incredible sense of warmth and friendship she's experienced while promoting her latest novel. To find out how to get hats for your own book group, visit her website at

higgins.JPGThese days, in order to promote Proper Care, I'm doing something fun. At every book signing I host, every workshop I give, and every request from reading groups, I give away a pile of colorful summer hats, just like the ones on the cover of Proper Care
The response has been fascinating. Whenever I get a chance to personally hand out the hats, I try to guess as each reader approaches what color she'll pick. I'm sure a psychologist could do a better analysis, but, heck, I'm a writer, so it's my job to take note of human behavior. 
I've found that the readers who choose red tend to choose without hesitation, slap the hat right on, and joke among their neighbors in line. Blue goes to the color-match-conscious, the regally placid of temperament, and, not surprisingly, the men (bold souls they are!). Pink goes to the young, and the proudly mature, and the unabashedly girly. Green goes to the tricksters, the wits, and the joyful eccentrics. 
And when someone chooses a color that clashes with what I, in a few moments of observation, think she may be...well, she is the most fascinating of all.
Looking over a crowd of people clustered about in their hats, talking with old friends and striking up conversations with new ones, I always feel a lovely sort of warmth. PROPER CARE is all about friendship. The novel was born after I was married, mortgaged, and became a mother, when lack of time and the hurdle of geography made it very difficult to keep in touch with many of my old friends. In that wistfulness, I wrote this story about four women, college buddies, who have drifted apart. One of them --- Rachel, a red hat girl if ever there was one --- makes it her very last wish to bring them back together. She succeeds in ways she could never have imagined.
My old friends and I have succeeded too. (Thank you, Facebook!) We make Herculean efforts to attend all our college reunions: That's where we roll out the old stories and tell new ones until we're weeping with laughter. That's where we end up at the college pub at two in the morning, singing hair-band power-ballads and generally embarrassing our children. That's where we come to terms with one essential truth: Life has taken us in very different directions, yet we all strive for the same goal --- joy in our work, our marriage, our parents, our children...and our friends.
So, when I post on my website the photos sent by book clubs of cheerful groups of women sporting hats, that is what I see: I see individuals with disparate personalities --- red, blue, green, pink—brought together by a collective passion. I see strong bonds, forged over shared experiences and maybe a little red wine. And I see women who have the good sense to make it a priority to nurture these very special relationships. 
You go, girls.