6 Revelations with the MAMs: The Magnificent and Marvelous Book Club
The MAMs are back in my new book, Revelation at the Labyrinth. But you may be asking, “Who are the MAMs”? So, let me tell you about them.
Every author provides characters with points of view in which they explain the world. Sometimes the whole story comes from one point of view. Other times, the view shifts from one character unto the next. In my books, I’ve created a group of women, a team, that provide a shifting and dynamic perspective on life. Meet the Magnificent and Marvelous Book Club, also known as the MAMs.
Molly Mabra created this group back quite a few years ago. She was a closet romance novel reader, so she posted an invitation to a new Romance Novel Reading Group in a local book store. Molly, an African-American government worker, liked to read romance novels to escape from the traumas unfolding daily among the tenants and neighbors with whom she counseled and mediated in her work for River City, Ohio. If you know me, you’ll know Molly is a bit like me. There was a time in my life that I had a steady diet of these romance novels, a form of escapism from listening to landlord, tenant and neighbor complaints as a mediation and fair housing coordinator where I work. I found that many people degrade this genre. Among my intellectual friends, I kept my preference quiet. Yet I love the strong female characters in the genre, and the happy endings. I remember my dad, as a pastoral counselor, told me once he preferred happy plays and musicals as well, because he had enough of the traumatic stuff in his everyday work.
At the first meeting, only five white women showed up. Molly took what she got, and the fictitious MAMs have been meeting ever since, once a month, in Molly’s living room. In the beginning, they called themselves Romance Readers Anonymous. Why “anonymous”? Well, that was a bit of a joke, but some of them, like the local college religion professor, needed to stay in the closet about their reading preferences. You can read more about their beginnings on my website. The dream in the prologue of Revelation at the Labyrinth is a flashback to a transformative moment they had at the Butterfly House at Niagara Falls when they decided to switch to other genres.
In my first book, Revelation in the Cave, they read In Search of Paul by John Dominic Crossan which became a catalyst for them to embark on a journey to the Cave of St. Paul near Kusdasi, Turkey. There, this small cave located in a hill above the archaeological site of the city state of Ephesus, houses a painting which portrays a first century scene with St. Thecla, a picture that was on the cover of Crossan’s book. St. Thecla is a fantastic lady whose friendship with the Apostle Paul unfolds in The Acts of Paul and Thecla, one of those apocryphal writings that didn’t make it into the Bible, but landed smack dab in the middle of my novel. You’ll have to read the book to learn more, but let me tell you they conduct an archaeological dig, dodge bullets from a mad man and uncover scrolls shedding light on the book of Revelation. The personal epiphanies each of them experiences leads them on to new journeys when they come back home. I like to say that the book is a cross between the Da Vinci Code and the Ya Ya Sisterhood, an alternative to Left Behind. I’ve always thought it would make a great movie. If anyone knows Reese Witherspoon, let her know! I hear she started her movie company to depict strong stories about girls and women, much-needed to broaden the type of movies being produced.
Now, the MAMs started a new project, which I write about in Revelation at the Labyrinth. After completing a round of reading environmental books and becoming concerned especially about climate change, they launch an organic, recovery farm for women re-entering society from prison. This book is told from Molly’s point of view, as the farm idea was her brainchild, and she gets breast cancer right after they launch the new program. But the MAMs are right there along with her throughout the story.
Currently, I’m writing them into a third adventure called Revelation in the Roots: Emerald Isle. This book will be written from Abigail’s point of view. Abigail’s journey as a widow, still grieving the loss of her husband three years ago, becomes central to this story, along with an exploration of her roots, and also the roots of re-entry men and women from the FARM and Sun Power houses, introduced in Revelation at the Labyrinth. Ah, but that’s for another time.
In the meantime, here’s a quick summary of the MAMs Book Club. And you can find these ladies commenting on the books that the MAMs Book Club Springfield reads each month on my spiritualseedlings.com website. Perhaps it will give you some ideas for the next book you want to read. Enjoy!
Introducing… The MAMs Book Club…
Abigail Wesley is a retired widow, a Quaker, and a Democrat. She had a hip replacement and was unable to go on the MAMs archaeological expedition in search of Thecla (Revelation in the Cave), so she sent her granddaughter, Emily Turner, a recent college graduate and a Mennonite. Abigail took a class with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and learned to facilitate labyrinths. She was a college roommate of MAM Sallie.
Katharine Long is a married religion professor at Mainline College, a liberal arts college in River City, Ohio. She has a fairly conservative personality and is moderate politically. She chose the book, In Search of Paul, that led to the MAMs adventure in Turkey, with her college roommate, Ursula Goodtree, an archeologist with the University of Michigan.
Jane Masters is single, a tall, lanky and retired businesswoman with a hobby of spelunking. She’s a Republican millionaire with disposable income she sometimes lavishes on the MAMs. With a Catholic upbringing, you’ll find her down-to-earth, a straight shooter who makes friends easily and gets along with most people.
Molly Mabra is the only African-American in the group (the rest of the women are white). Molly’s a Democrat who works in city government. She likes to write in her spare time. Married with two sons, one of whom was serving in the military in Iraq, in the first book. She worried about him and his choice bothered her because she believes in nonviolence as a Christian and fan of Martin Luther King, Jr. She attends a large, African-American non-denominational church.
Priscilla Johnson is a single, prim administrative assistant, a Republican, Christian evangelical. She lives a conservative lifestyle, with no drinking and likes to wear high heels.
Sallie Quisenberry is a single, retired kindergarten teacher. She is quite chubby and loves to laugh from her belly. She spars with Jane a lot and, like Jane, she rarely meets a stranger. A beloved icon in her home town, Sallie belongs to the Church of the Brethren and is a college roommate of Abigail. She’s been somewhat unconcerned about politics, but calls herself a Democrat if asked.
Both Revelation in the Cave and Revelation at the Labyrinth are available online. Read descriptions on my website at nancyflinchbaugh.com. Or if you live in Springfield, you can buy them directly from me.