An evening of Wine, Women and Wisdom: An Intimate Conversation with Ann Leary and Lee Woodruff took place on Wednesday, June 12 at Arezzo Ristorante in Westport. Woodruff and Leary are, among their many other accomplishments, authors of note and spoke about their recently published works of fiction, “The Good House” by Leary and “Those We Love Most" by Woodruff. Jessica Bram, founder of the Westport Writer's Workshop, moderated the discussion, which included questions posed by the audience.
Woodruff is the wife of television journalist Bob Woodruff, who was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device – from which he has since recovered – reporting from Iraq in 2006. Leary is married to actor/comedian Denis Leary. Both Leary and Woodruff, friends in real life, have previously published works of nonfiction to their credit.
The capacity crowd mingled over wine and hors d'oeuvres and engaged in spirited conversation prior to the discussion. Many waited with eager anticipation for the talk. "I had read both authors' new books," said Westport resident Hilde Krogenes. "Their style of writing is similar yet so different as well, so I am really looking forward to the conversation." Another attendee, Wilton interior designer Angela Lowy of Grace HomeStyleDesign LLC, was equally enthused. "I read 'The Good House,' and Ann Leary writes so lyrically. I can't wait to hear her speak."
The authors did not disappoint, engaging the audience from the get go. Each described her book and how the stories in them came about.
“The Good House” centers on a New England realtor, her contention with a drinking problem and a host of intrigue that surrounds her life. For the novel, Leary drew on her own experience having been in recovery from alcohol abuse. The story takes place in a fictional town on the North Shore of Boston, where Leary moved when she was 14.
“Those We Love Most” touches on generational family drama. Like Leary, Woodruff was familiar with her topic. "I believe that your story will find you," she said. "My book was inspired by a real incident that happened near where I live. A 17-year old hit a small child with his car, and I had a friend who was connected to the family of the child. This whole situation provided the genesis for my book. Thankfully, the child made a full recovery and is okay."
Both authors agreed that even though their books are works of fiction, "we write what we know." Woodruff, a Westchester County resident, and Leary, who resides in northwest Connecticut, also agreed that despite their literary successes, they are most proud of their roles as mothers. The Woodruffs have four children, the Learys two.
A raffle awarding various luxurious door prizes followed the presentation, along with a book signing by both authors. The proceeds from the evening benefited Staples High School Tuition Grants and the Tiny Miracles Foundation. Connections PR of Westport presented the event.
Photos by Christine Chagaris: Connections PR's Denise Torve introduces Leary and Woodruff, and guests mingle pre-discussion.