The Meaning of Love 

Kristin Hannah didn't want to be confined to writing romance novels.

Kristin Hannah was almost finished with law school when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. That's when Hannah started spending days in class, nights beside the sickbed. "We spent a lot of time looking for happy thoughts," Hannah remembers. "It just so happened that what my mom wanted to discuss were her beloved romance novels. 'You know,' she said to me at one point, 'you're going to be a writer.'" That startled Hannah, who had no such plans.

A few years later, after her mother had passed away, then-lawyer Hannah "found myself in the middle of a difficult pregnancy. Bedridden for five months, there was no way to really work and nothing to do. ... When I started to care who won The Price Is Right, I knew I was in trouble." Her husband reminded her about her mother's proclamation, and she got to thinking: "There it was, the dream my mom had left me. I booted up a computer, pulled a keyboard onto my lap, and started writing." She started, dutifully, with romances. "But I've always had a short attention span," so "I began very early in my career to become interested in story lines and characters and issues that went beyond the scope of the traditional historical romance. I wanted to write love stories — then and now — but I wanted some of those loves to be between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, best friends." Her many books, which include the New York Times bestsellers Summer Island and Comfort and Joy, run the gamut of human relationships. At A Great Good Place for Books (6120 LaSalle Ave, Oakland) on Friday, Feb. 15, she introduces her latest, Firefly Lane, about a best-friends-forevership that starts in the mid-'70s. It's an era the author remembers all too well: a time of ABBA, Boone's Farm Apple Wine, and stolen cigarettes smoked on a misty riverbank. 7 p.m.


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