It's hard to believe that The Book of Peach is the first novel by Penelope J. Stokes that we've read. (She's written nine others-and that's just the fiction!)
The Book of Peach is the heartwarming, funny and equal parts sentimental novel about Peach, a former beauty queen who defiantly walked out of her mother's Mississippi home twenty some odd years ago, bound and determined never to return. How did that work out for her? Well...not exactly as planned. After a divorce, she's now back at home heartbroken and frustrated. Not a good combo if you ask Peach. To escape from living under her mother's judgmental eye yet again (and under strict orders by her therapist) she begins to journal about her life. She finds a back booth in the Heartbreak Cafe (also the title of Stokes' prior novel) where she meets some very unlikely friends. And she learns a lesson that we can all relate to-before you can move forward, you have to embrace your past.
And five of you can win a copy! Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win this women's fiction novel that makes you want to start a fire, curl up next to it and read from page one straight through to the end. (As usual, winners will be randomly selected.)
So now, without further adieu...5 Things Liz & Lisa didn't know about...Penelope J. Stokes
1. I’m older than I look, and younger than I feel. . .My publicity photo, of course, was taken in the early years of the twentieth century, just shortly after the development of color film. It is my own personal version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, in reverse–the photo never changes, while I get older by the day. But there’s an upside: I keep my privacy intact, because no one ever recognizes me in public places.
2. And speaking of privacy and public places. . .I’m an introvert. Truly. While my other writer friends flit from bookstore to bookstore, introducing themselves to managers and setting up book signings and appearances, I hide in the stacks behind towering shelves of books by dead writers. If I have a role to play–if I’m asked to speak to fifty people (or five hundred), I’m just fine. No hesitation there, no butterflies. I’ll have them eating out of the palm of my hand. But I’m absolutely no good at self-promotion.
I’ve never told my publicist this ugly truth about myself. Writers are supposed to be self-motivated little mini-me versions of Facebook, always publicizing the newest book. I was dragged onto Facebook by well-meaning friends who insisted that I had to have a fan page.
And yes, it’s the same Dorian Gray picture on Facebook.
3. And speaking of Facebook. . .I’m thinking of introducing a bill to Congress making it illegal to use facebook as a verb. As in, “I’m doing a little facebooking today.”
Yikes. Who teaches these kids, anyway?
Double yikes. I’m channeling my mother. That’s exactly the sentence she would have used. In fact, that’s exactly the sentence she did use, about nine hundred thousand times during my formative years.
4. And speaking of my mother. . .Yes, some of the details in my novel, The Book of Peach, were experiences that hark back to my own childhood.
No, I won’t tell you which ones. It’s more fun to speculate, to make up a backstory that has little or no relation to the so-called truth. Knock yourself out.
5. And speaking of childhoods. . .My father was a social worker, a weekend fisherman, and a profoundly creative soul who entertained us all with tales that grew with every telling. He had no compunction whatsoever about elaborating a story to suit his audience or his purposes. He called it storytelling. My mother called it lying.
Actually, my mother called it prevaricating. She was an English teacher. I was the only child in kindergarten who could spell, pronounce, and conjugate the verb to prevaricate without hesitation. My mother’s part in my literary upbringing was to read Edgar Allan Poe to me for bedtime stories.
My friends say that explains a lot.
Penelope, where have you been all of our lives? We love your book and you! And we can't wait to read all of your other novels!
xoxo, Liz & Lisa