Yes, I’m a social worker, but I haven’t practiced as such for many decades. Instead, early on I went into private practice as a psychotherapist, then a life and career coach. But, in preparing to meet with a group of social workers in Central Massachusetts last week, I discovered just how much I am still a social worker.

To comply with continuing education requirements for the meeting, I researched what it means to be a social worker. Although I’m surely not a “do-gooder,” nor do I enjoy being a caretaker, many of the values of the social work profession still resonate with me as much as they did in the 1960s when I began my social work training.

Social justice; value of relationship, integrity, equality, humanitarianism. All these sound good to me. I practice them in my daily life, whenever I have the opportunity and when I am in my “best self.”

The group members, some retired, some working in the field, had read BEGUILED so carefully and remembered more detail than I did. Some seemed to have had life experiences that made it challenging to accept some of Miriam (my protagonist’s) choices. They gave me insight into why and how I might have made Miriam’s character more relevant to them. Others countered this by recognizing her struggles and how Miriam’s anguished choice had more to do with her intense need to finally get her mother’s love.

There was another topic of interest to me, particularly because I’m studying oral histories of those who lived through the Great Depression to prepare for the sequel to BEGUILED. This was about how some members remembered their own Depression stories. One person lived with her grandmother (a depression survivor) and ate banana sandwiches growing up. In my studies, I’ve been researching how food habits changed for people who were out of work and often starving. Bread and beans were staples.

Another member’s mother went to grad school during the Depression. A reminder that not everyone was unemployed and on bread lines.

It’s a joy to do book events where people have read the story and can engage with me with candid feedback and provocative conversation. If you know of book groups in the Boston area or online anywhere, please pass on information about BEGUIILED.