We had roasted chicken breasts with lemon cream sauce, salad, pasta, and chocolate-chip cookies. Kelly is down-to-earth, has a great sense of humor, and makes you immediately feel like you’re her best friend.
When I asked her about her easy friendliness with people, she said, "I’m a Corrigan. We’re connectors. We start every interaction like we’ve known and loved you for years."
Okay, I wasn’t exactly alone at lunch with Kelly, who wrote The New York Times bestseller The Middle Place and, most recently, Lift. There were about 115 other people there, too, including some of her Baltimore aunts and cousins.
Kelly is on a national tour to promote her new book. She’ll be on the Today show on Thursday (April 29) if you’d like to see her. This evening, she’ll also be at Talbots in Annapolis Town Centre, signing books at 6 p.m. (She’s a "real-woman" model for the clothing store’s catalog. She shares, "They photoshopped out the shamrock tattoo on my ankle.")
At today’s sold-out luncheon at Mercy Medical Center, Kelly read excerpts from Lift, which is an 89-page letter to her daughters Georgia, 8, and Claire, 7, about their childhoods. It’s sweet, funny, and sad.
I sat in Piedigrotta reading it one afternoon and realized I had tears dripping into my latte. Her first book, The Middle Place, is also poignant—and laugh-out-loud funny in its honesty. Kelly, who now lives outside San Francisco, writes about growing up in Philadelphia and her breast-cancer diagnosis while her girls were still in diapers. At the same time, her dad, George or "Greenie" as he’s called, was also diagnosed with cancer.
I know this is a little off topic for the In Good Taste blog, but I wanted to share my experience with Kelly, whose parents grew up in Baltimore. Greenie went to Loyola High School and the University of Maryland, where he was All-American lacrosse. Her mom, Mary Dwyer, grew up in Homeland, went to Notre Dame, and was a teacher in Baltimore for a while. Her brother Scott is a teacher and lacrosse coach at McDonogh.
Also, Kelly worked here for United Way as a fund-raiser in the early ’90s. It was her first job after she graduated from the University of Richmond.
I asked her about her life at that time. "I was single and broke, so we did a lot of happy hours. And we slept in until 11 a.m. and then made our way down to Fells Point for eggs and bacon. And if we weren’t careful, we’d stay there until midnight."
Yes, she definitely has Baltimore genes.
Today’s luncheon was a benefit for The Red Devils, a local organization that helps breast-cancer patients and their families. "We’re one of Maryland’s best-kept secrets," said Jeanne Backof, the nonprofit group’s president. "We want more people to know about us."
I’ll be writing more about Kelly and The Red Devils in our June issue. Kelly had a lot more to say about our city, like, "I love the size and the crabs and the accent and the people and the O's." Bless her heart for the part about our struggling Orioles!
Kelly certainly made an impact on today’s crowd. Shane Powers of Frederick (and the one guy in the group), said, "It was very inspirational. I’m the single father of three girls. I’m going to have my children read her books."