It’s been 45 years since Rebecca Sprecher and Marie Wells Coutu have seen each other.
Both women were born and raised in Hopkinsville. They attended Hopkinsville High School and in 1968, after which they went their separate ways.
Coutu went to Murray State University and worked as a writer for various newspapers, magazines and businesses, as well as government and nonprofit organizations. For the last 15 years, she has worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Sprecher attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then moved to Hawaii and went to work as a flight attendant for Pan Am Airways.
Both women married, had children and have since settled in the Carolinas. Coutu settled near Charlotte, N.C., and Sprecher in Beaufort, S.C.
Over the weekend, the ladies found themselves back in their hometown for their 45th high school reunion, which was Saturday night at the James E. Bruce Convention Center.
As they each made plans to travel back to their hometown, Coutu and Sprecher discovered, through Facebook, they had both written novels that were recently published.
Seeing as they were both fledgling authors with new books, Coutu and Sprecher thought: What better way to kick off their reunion weekend than with a double book signing at Books on Main in downtown Hopkinsville?
“When we realized that we were both going to be here for the reunion, that’s when we decided to do the signing,” Coutu said.
The event was a simple affair that was more of a pre-reunion than a promotional event. Classmates in town for the reunion filtered in and out of the bookstore. The shop echoed with excited greetings, ecstatic conversations and the re-hashing of long forgotten memories.
“We haven’t seen each other for 45 years, but this has been a great way to reconnect and to reconnect with the class,” Sprecher said.
“It’s so much fun to see people that I haven’t seen in years and get caught up a little bit,” Marie said of the book signing event. “And a few people that I don’t know have come in too which is great. I’m really pleased.
Coutu’s book, “For Such a Moment,” takes a Biblical character, Queen Esther, places her in modern times, and names her Ellen. Married to an American CEO, Ellen discovered that her husband’s company is poisoning the water in her home country of Guatemala. She has to make a decision because revealing her childhood secrets could save lives or they could destroy her already troubled marriage.
“I’ve always loved the story of Esther,” Marie said. “She was just a great role model for women. So I thought, ‘How can I make her story come to life in a way people today can relate to?’”
A technical writer by trade, fiction was a new endeavor for Coutu. She said she didn’t think she could write fiction, but she had this idea and sought help through editors and research to make her story come to life.
Ultimately, her idea won a Books for Hope award, which gave her a small cash prize and a three-book contract, which means there are two more books in the works.
Sprecher co-authored the book, “Flying - A Novel,” with Paula Helfrich, a fellow Pan Am flight attendant. The book gives a behind-the-scenes look into the mysterious airline world. It tells the story of two Pan Am flight attendants, one from Burma and one from Kentucky, and the eccentric, courageous, glamorous and fearful people they encountered on their flights. However, the women learned that flying is not all fantasy and glamour as the first signs of airline terrorism begin to surface.
“We felt that nobody had ever told the story of these flight crews properly and that we should just go ahead and do it ourselves,” Sprecher said. “I think a lot of people our age are starting to tell their stories for that reason — to get it done right. Flying with Pan Am changed my life; it made me a citizen of the world and I learned that whatever you need to know in life you can learn right here and that small-town life provides a very good foundation for people to go out into the world.”
Reach Kat Russell at 270-887-3241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.