Pens and Personalities

Best-selling authors dine with the Bushes in amazing River Oaks chateau with a ghost

Best-selling authors dine with Bushes in River Oaks home with a ghost

News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Lauren Bush Lauren, Ellie LeBlond Sosa, Doro Bush Koch, Barbara Bush, Neil Bush, Maria Bush, Lizzie Andrews, Pierce Bush, George H. W. Bush
Lauren Bush Lauren, back row from left, Ellie LeBlond Sosa, Doro Bush Koch, Barbara Bush, Neil and Maria Bush and Lizzie Andrews. Front row, Pierce Bush, left, President George H.W. Bush. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Stuart Smith, Limor Smith
Stuart and Limor Smith. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Greg Maxwell, Sue Maxwell
Greg and Sue Maxwell. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Pierce Bush, Terri Havens, John Havens, Lauren Bush Lauren
Pierce Bush, from left, Terri and John Havens and Lauren Bush Lauren. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Tricia Koch, Shahla Ansary
Tricia Koch, left, and Shahla Ansary. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Julie Baker Finck, Byron Pitts, Triston Sanders
Julie Baker Finck, left, Byron Pitts and Triston Sanders. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, John Ambler, Kate Ambler
John and Kate Amber. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Terri Havens, Jackie Collins, John Havens
Terri Havens, from left, Jackie Collins and John Havens. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Claudia Kreisle, Julie Baker Finck, Karen Tripp
Claudia Kreisle, from left, Julie Baker Finck and Karen Tripp. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, David McCollough, Rosalee McCollough
David and Rosalee McCullough. Photo by Jenny Antill
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Lauren Bush Lauren, Ellie LeBlond Sosa, Doro Bush Koch, Barbara Bush, Neil Bush, Maria Bush, Lizzie Andrews, Pierce Bush, George H. W. Bush
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Stuart Smith, Limor Smith
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Greg Maxwell, Sue Maxwell
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Pierce Bush, Terri Havens, John Havens, Lauren Bush Lauren
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Tricia Koch, Shahla Ansary
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Julie Baker Finck, Byron Pitts, Triston Sanders
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, John Ambler, Kate Ambler
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Terri Havens, Jackie Collins, John Havens
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, Claudia Kreisle, Julie Baker Finck, Karen Tripp
News, Shelby, Celebration of Reading luncheon, April 2015, David McCollough, Rosalee McCollough

One of the perks for the authors who volunteer their time as readers at the annual Celebration of Reading is an intimate luncheon with Barbara and George H.W. Bush and major donors. So it was midday on Thursday only hours before the record-breaking fundraiser that a coterie of the authors and 40 heavy-hitters gathered in the French-inspired chateau of Terri and John Havens.

Before sitting down for lunch in the party room of a new addition to the vast River Oaks home, guests toured the gardens and visited the 18th century French chapel that the Havens imported to Houston. The magnificent estate backing up to River Oaks Country Club and Buffalo Bayou was a brilliant setting for impressive gathering of best-selling authors, a Pulitzer Prize winner and business moguls. 

Best-selling author Jackie Collins, who had arrived early for a tour of the house (most of the interiors imported from France), noted, "I have a big house but this is really big. I can't imagine how much staff it requires." On visiting the library, she told the Havenses that she sensed a ghost in the room. John Havens acknowledged that, indeed, they believed a ghost did inhabit the space.

After socializing and photos and glasses of a divine lavender iced-tea, guests sat down to tasty summer lunch from Jackson and Co. including a seafood cocktail, barbecued chicken and the best strawberry shortcake ever. One of the guests admitted that she loved this event as much for the face time with the authors as for the special dessert that is served each year at the luncheon.

The brief program included comments from John Havens; Neil Bush, who chairs the Celebration of Reading with his wife Maria; and ABC Nightline co-anchor Byron Pitts. The newsman/author shared a few comments on his early educational difficulties and remarked that he and Neil Bush have a lot in common as both had mothers who were "tough women, women who have changed the world."

Much of the Bush clan was on hand for the luncheon including Barbara and former president George H.W. Bush, Lauren Bush Lauren, Pierce Bush, Doro Bush Koch, Ellie LeBlond Soro and Lizzie Andrews.

Among those going home with Lauren Bush Lauren Feed bags containing a bottle of wine from the Havens' Cal-A-Vie spa were two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough and wife Rosalee, president of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy foundation Julie Baker Finck, Shahla and Ambassador Hushang Ansary, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Limor and Stuart Smith and Sue and Greg Maxwell.

Another special guest was singer-songwriter, 20-year-old Olivia Somerlyn, who would perform during the evening's program.

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