Sophia Institute Special Event – In Polite Company

Sophia Institute Special Event

Join Sophia Institute Founder Carolyn Rivers and author Gervais Hagerty for an in-depth discussion about IN POLITE COMPANY.

This debut novel is a riveting and rollicking tale that explores the private lives of Charleston society through the eyes of a former debutante. While the heart of this coming-of-age story is the relationship between a young woman and her grandmother, the book also is a commentary on contemporary society. The story questions how our cultures define who we are, and that invites readers to wonder if sometimes rules are made to be broken.

This will be a particularly special book discussion because the speakers are friends. (When Gervais was about 12 years old, she met Carolyn; she recalls their first conversation was about feminism.)

We hope you will join us for a fun, lively, and in-depth conversation about the book, plus a deep dive into the role of religion in a modern South, the uneven power dynamic when we worship male gods, and how this discordance translates in the bedroom and beyond.


Tourists think they see the real Charleston, but Simons Smythe knows there’s more to her hometown than sweet tea and Southern hospitality. Behind the walled gardens, inside the fabled historic homes, live Charleston’s elite. Simons was born into this powerful aristocracy that has quietly ruled the city for centuries.

Simons’s family has a banner year ahead; Her older sister will give birth to her second child, and her younger sister will make her debut—a series of cocktail parties and balls to introduce her to society. And in one year, Simons plans to marry Trip. She hopes that’s enough time to fall back in love.

Simons produces the news at a local TV station, a job that increasingly tests her loyalty to her family and friends. On her days off, Simons surfs the waves of Folly Beach, crabs the salty rivers of Edisto Island, and follows her wayward heart to King Street bars. The one touchstone in this confusing time is her elegant and secretive grandmother, Laudie, who—repeatedly and mysteriously—urges Simons to “be brave”.

In this sparkling novel, Simons unlocks riddles from the past, flirts with a new future, and discovers that some rules are made to be broken.


“Honest, edgy, open-hearted, Gervais Hagerty’s In Polite Company is a tantalizing debut novel of a young woman’s journey in the mysteries of love, relationship, and her own empowerment.”   Carolyn Rivers, Founder and Director, The Sophia Institute

“Here is the captivating story of a contemporary young woman navigating the expectations of family, the traditions of Charleston’s elite, and the fierce pull of her own heart… This is a beautiful debut novel.”  Sue Monk Kidd, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Gorgeously written, heartfelt, and true…. A must read this summer –and any time of the year.” Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author.

A recording of this event will be provided to all those who have registered for this event. The recording is exclusively for registrants only.

Hourly Schedule

6 PM - 7 PM
via Zoom


Oct 07 2021


Free Event, but you must register by 12 Noon on October 7th

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Virtual Program
Join us via Zoom Conference