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Events at BookShop West Portal (see more)


Saturday, August 20

at 11 AM

Special Event

at The West Portal Library

Nancy Tupper Ling &

Alina Chau

Double Happiness

For their move far away, Gracie and Jake are sad to leave
the golden bridge, 
the trolley tracks, 
and Nai Nai. But they fill empty boxes with treasures 
a marble, a snake, 
a pair of wings.
Tiny reminders of all they love 
so happiness stays close, 
no matter where they go.
With grace and warmth, this lyrical picture book speaks to the difficulty of transition, and celebrates the ways in which love and family give us the strength to weather life's changes.


Wednesday, August 24

at 7 PM

Ann Hood

The Book That Matters Most

Ava's twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group's goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava's story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava's mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.


Wednesday, September 14

at 7 PM

Alex Dolan

The Empress of Tempera

Good art can make a person cry; great art can make a person kill. 
Paire Anjou came to New York to be an artist, but thus far has only achieved an artist boyfriend the "enfant terrible" of the art world, Derek Rosewood. On her way to his show, where his controversial paintings will be on display, Paire sees an older man on the sidewalk, looking into the window of the Fern Gallery, gazing intently at a painting, and sobbing. As Paire approaches him, the man stabs himself in the chest. 
The painting that inspired the suicide is a one-off for the gallery, the last-known surviving work of a dissident Chinese artist named Qi. An empress, dressed in red, sits imperiously and stares out at the viewer. Paire is but one of the people who stare back, joined by hundreds, from around the world, flocking to the Fern Gallery to observe and obsess over the Empress. The Empress inspires lust and panic, rage and greed. When Paire starts digging into the backstory of the painting, and its artist, she unravels a tale of profound betrayal and a vengeance that spans generations. 
She also sets in motion the painting's final heist, a swirling morass of bribery, theft, and murder, drawing Paire deeper and deeper into the underside of the art world, where the greatest works inspire the most vicious of crimes.


Wednesday, September 28

at 7 PM

Lauren Collins

When In French:

Love In A Second Language

A language barrier is no match for love. Lauren Collins discovered this firsthand when, in her early thirties, she moved to London and fell for a Frenchman named Olivier, a surprising turn of events for someone who didn't have a passport until she was in college. But what does it mean to love someone in a second language? Collins wonders, as her relationship with Olivier continues to grow entirely in English. Are there things she doesn't understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his native tongue? Does I love you even mean the same thing as je l'aime ? When the couple, newly married, relocates to Francophone Geneva, Collins fearful of one day becoming "a Borat of a mother" who doesn't understand her own kids, decides to answer her questions for herself by learning French. 
"When in French" is a laugh-out-loud funny and surprising memoir about the lengths we go to for love, as well as an exploration across culture and history into how we learn languages and what they say about who we are. Collins grapples with the complexities of the French language, enduring excruciating role-playing games with her classmates at a Swiss language school and accidently telling her mother-in-law that she's given birth to a coffee machine. In learning French, Collins must wrestle with the very nature of French identity and society which, it turns out, is a far cry from life back home in North Carolina. Plumbing the mysterious depths of humanity's many forms of language, Collins describes with great style and wicked humor the frustrations, embarrassments, surprises, and, finally, joys of learning and living in French.