By Jane Knoerle
Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who introduced Ms. Bush, set the tone of the evening. "We're here to have fun," he said, adding, "Barbara Bush has almost become a part of the American family."
At 78, Ms. Bush showed she could be fast with a quip (she'd appeared on the "Tonight" show the previous evening). She quoted recent reviews of her new book, "Reflections, Life after the White House," that called her "tart" (not a tart, she added) and "the enforcer."
"You cannot survive [in the public eye] without a sense of humor," she said. She also regaled the audience with a tale of how one little girl came home and told her mother, "George Washington's mother read to us at school today."
Another girl wrote she had named her heifer Barbara Bush and sent periodic updates on how "Barbara" was doing.
Ms. Bush, who said she "married one president" and "gave birth to another," wore a sapphire blue suit with skirt, her trademark triple-strand pearl necklace, and pearl earrings surrounded with diamonds. She was accompanied by three Secret Service agents.
She read her 30-minute speech from notes and quoted passages from her book. She admitted trying to write a novel, but fared better writing about her own experiences. Drawing on excerpts from her diary, "Reflections" chronologically takes the reader through eight years, devoting one chapter to each year. An epilogue discusses the family's reactions to September 11, 2001, and its aftermath.
"Reflections" is her fourth book. Others are: "Barbara Bush: A Memoir," "Millie's Book," and "C. Fred's Story."
Ms. Bush said she was an avid reader, naming Irish author Maeve Binchy and mystery writer Elizabeth George as two of her favorites. "I also read a lot of junk," she added.
Katherine Yancey, 6, of Atherton, who attends St. Raymond School, asked her mother to bring her so she could meet the "President's mommy."
Old friends Dottie and Bob King of Menlo Park got a hug from Ms. Bush. The Kings spend their summers in Kennebunkport, Maine, and both have played golf with the Bushes. They also attended a concert of the Yale Glee Club at the Bush home this summer.
Ms. Bush's visit to Kepler's was part of a nationwide book tour. Founder of The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, she also is promoting literacy programs throughout the country. Kepler's donated some of the proceeds from the evening to Project Read.
Ms. Bush drew applause from her fans when she concluded: "I'm the luckiest woman in the world. I have a husband I adore, children I love, and I live in the United States of America."
Go 41's Partner, 43's Mom! How fun that my mom got singled out in the crowd the other night. Thank you Mrs. Bush.
We appreciate your passion and your efforts to inspire our kids to read. We look forward to reading "Reflections."