Literary Tea Time with Susan Vreeland

By Erica Dobecki

What could be better than tea and books? In my opinion, nothing. For a sunny afternoon in September, I spent my time at the Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego for the Ladies Literary Tea. The guest of honor was Susan Vreeland, a San Diego native.

The event was on September 27th in a dining room setting in the hotel. While the ages were not restricted, it was for women only. The price was approximately forty dollars for the two and a half hour event. Susan VreelandVreeland discussed many of her New York bestsellers, including Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany. She also told a story of a young woman in France, about finding love in war times and the desire for art when Nazis were searching for her family’s collection. It was a beautiful story spoken from an eloquent woman.

The novel was available for sale at the event as well. The short story told was called Lisette’s List and shortly after, she signed copies of her books. Every person in the room was awestruck by not just her novels but her overall presence. “Writers have to be observant,” Vreeland said to Union Tribune writer, John Wilkens, just a month before the Ladies Literary Tea. This quote could not be any more true. While she says she wants to take a year or two off of writing, Vreeland contradicts herself by saying she cannot do anything but write. She does not know if she has anything left in her but she does not think about things like that. Her teaching also helps her write, she says. While she was teaching the same things, she would be thinking about them while writing her novels. Now, she is retired from teaching and living in University Heights in San Diego. She has dealt with cancer for the past twenty years as well, which she has dealt with in her writing.

Susan Vreeland is an American author from San Diego whose novels deal mostly with art and fiction. Her first novel, What Love Sees, was published in 1988. She is a Random House published author, with many credentials, including being on The New York Times Bestsellers List four times. Four of her novels have received the Theodore Geisel Award, which is the highest literary award in San Diego. She was also a high school English teacher in the San Diego Unified High School District for over thirty years, starting in 1969. During that time, she also taught art, not surprisingly. Everything she taught to the high school students can be directly seen in her novels. Lisette’s List can be purchased here, along with many of her other novels. I highly recommend all of them, as rich as they are in transformations throughout each one. Susan Vreeland’s personal website is filled with information on her novels and future events throughout the country and San Diego alike. The Union Tribune interview has a lot of depth into Susan Vreeland’s life.

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