Monday, 7 February 2011

Inspiration can come from the most unlikeliest of sources

This story starts several months ago when I was sitting round a room with other members of our Hitchin book club and volunteered to put together a list of books to decide by vote what we would read next when we met in a month's time.  I have read quite widely and have often been the member of the group that had read a particular suggestion in the past.  So it is fair to say that the other members expected some interesting, possibly stretching choices.  At a loss as to what to put forward I asked my followers on twitter who came back with a whole host of suggestions, one of which was The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis.  When I read the synopsis of the book, it sounded intriguing so I put it forward.  On the night of the vote, I had the casting vote and plumped for The Necklace.  As it turns out, the book is not very well written and it became clear at the book club's Christmas party that it had not been a popular choice.  I could not attend the January meeting where it was discussed because I was at a family funeral but I get the feeling that it was panned unanimously.  I share that partly to give you a laugh because it is funny how things turns out sometimes and also to give you some context to what follows.

I want to spend the rest of this post exploring with you what resonated for me in the book, not as a defense of my choice, more because I found it inspirational.  All that in spite of the execrable writing style.  In essence it is about 12 to 13 women who led by the vision of one decide to buy a $20,000 necklace between them and share it, which in itself is an amazing example of collaboration.  They each have the necklace for a month before passing it on to the next person.

What was so powerful was the symbolism of the necklace and the different values each woman placed on it,  which sometimes led to situations that they had to confront and resolve in order to move on.  For example one woman realised that there was very little joy in her life and over time she found a way to open up within the group and participate.  There is a lovely scene towards the end where many of the group come together to support her in hosting her daughter's wedding by offering up their many talents to ensure the day runs smoothly.  In the end the Necklace took on something more than had ever been intended.  It became a vehicle for fundraising in the area of the US in which they lived and in different ways brought light, love and laughter to many women's lives outside the original baker's dozen.

What it revealed to me was our ever present need to find community and meaning in our lives and how the power of an idea can go much further than was intended at the outset.  For these reasons alone the book is worth a read. Now you have heard from me, I would love to read comments about what has inspired you recently.

Photograph courtesy of Federico Stevanin /


  1. Great post. I've had an uncanny number of strange coincidences recently which have inspired me to start work on a new novel. Almost as though the universe is trying to tell me something - loud and clear! Inspiring stuff indeed.

  2. Wow that is wonderful and is a real example of how these things work. Good luck with the new novel.