Our Laguna: Luncheon celebrates the written word

March 14, 2013|By Barbara Diamond
  • Attendees at the 26th annual Literary Luncheon Laguna Beach Festival of Women Authors, which was hosted by the American Assn. of University Women Laguna Beach Branch. From left to right are Maggie Anton, author of “Rashi's Daughters,” Nicole Mones, author of “The Last Chinese Chef,” Margaret Dilloway, author of “The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns,” and Rahimeh Andalibian, author of “The Rose Hotel.”
Attendees at the 26th annual Literary Luncheon Laguna… (Coastline Pilot )

Not all authors are as good at speaking as they are at writing, so the guests at the 26th annual Literary Luncheon on Saturday had a real treat.

The Laguna Beach Chapter of the American Assn. of University Women hosted the annual luncheon at the Surf & Sand Resort. It was sold out.

Authors Rahimeh Andalibian, Maggie Anton, Margaret Dilloway and Nicole Mones entranced the audience with snippets of their lives, how they became writers and some tidbits from what they had written.

Luncheon chairwoman Karen Dennis introduced them with brief biographies.

Andalibian was born in Iran, but her family escaped, taking with them secrets that led to isolation and misunderstandings for 30 years.

She wrote about their experiences in "The Rose Hotel," described by Publishers Weekly as a "multilayered tale ... beautifully steeped in culture and Iranian history ... an ornately imagined tapestry."


"My purpose in writing this book was to help people connect," said Andalibian, the only first-time author this year.

She is working with other authors to produce a play that weaves her family's story with similar tales. Her goal in her writing is to help people to open up and connect with their loved ones and the world.

"I hope to touch lives and maybe change minds," said Andalibian, who is also a psychologist.

Anton's Book "Rav Hisa's Daughter, Book I: Apprentice," tells the story of the youngest daughter of one of Judaism's most revered scholars. As a young girl, she learned the Torah by heart but was banned from further studies because of her sex.

"That does resonate in the hearts of AAUW women," Dennis said.

Anton's first book was published in 2005, something she didn't expect.

"I like happy endings so I wrote the book I wanted to read," Anton said.

Anton is familiar to some Laguna Beach readers who attended her book signing last year at Jane Hanauer's Laguna Beach Books.

"It was the biggest book signing I have ever had," Anton said.

Anton, the recipient of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, is currently working on a sequel to her first book.

Dilloway is the product of what used to be called a "mixed marriage," in her case the union of a Japanese woman and an Irish-Welsh American father.

She was inspired by her mother's experiences to write "How to Be an American Housewife," the same name as the manual her father gave her mother.

Dilloway knew she was a writer from childhood, beginning in kindergarten.

"I didn't talk, I just wrote," she said.

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