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Enter below for a chance to win a copy of Julie Cantrell’s Perennials!
What was your favorite book as a child?
My mother gave me such a gift by teaching me to value books. She read many stories to me, but I had two definite favorites.
One was Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner and P.D. Eastman. Perhaps this is why I have always had an affinity for horses and flowers.
The second was a Richard Scarry book. My favorite page featured Santa Claus and a Christmas tree. I guess that’s why one of my first sentences was, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” and I’m still a sucker for sentimental holiday stories today.
As I got a little older, I became obsessed with Pippi Longstocking. Probably because I wanted to keep a real horse on our porch and I dreamed of exploring the world with a monkey as my co-pilot. Who wouldn’t?
Pippi remains one of my favorite literary characters of all time. In fact, she ended up playing a bit of a role in my fourth novel, Perennials. Isn’t it interesting how a childhood experience can resurface when we least expect it?
What book did you read that first made you want to be an author?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Many people cite that book as one of great influence in their lives, especially Southerners. But when my high school English teacher assigned the novel, she asked us to journal as if we were one of the characters in the story. I chose to write from Scout’s point of view, and that assignment changed my life. It introduced me to the power of fiction writing, and I’m still addicted to that great escape.
What was the last book you read just for fun?
One I’ve read recently is On Living by Kerry Egan. She’s a hospice chaplain who has written about the experiences she’s encountered in that unique and challenging role. While that may not sound like a “fun” read, I found it both inspiring and enjoyable.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
a. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
b. Whole by Steve Wiens
c. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
d. The Best Place to Be Today by Lonely Planet (Sarah Baxter, Ed.)
Plus a large stack of books on topics I’m researching for current and future novels.
What upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?
Oh, my goodness. I can’t answer that! That’s the thing about having friends who are authors … I can’t pick favorite books anymore. Maybe it’s because I now know how much work goes into creating a book, but I just sit in awe of every single story that ever hits shelves.
I will say, I’m always hungry for another book by Anne Lamott, Sue Monk Kidd, Barbara Kingsolver, Marilynne Robinson, or Ann Voskamp. I can never get enough of their writing.
More about Perennials:
“This is a book to read more than once.” —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author
“If Julie Cantrell isn’t on your reading list, she should be.” —Lisa Wingate, national bestselling author
When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.
Eva Sutherland—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Mississippi, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries it caused, changed everything. Her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage. Bitsy became the homecoming queen and the perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.
At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona. Free from Bitsy’s vicious lies, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself. But at forty-five, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that led her here.
When her father calls insisting she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at her wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is drawn in to a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning how to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.
Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.
Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist and public speaker. A TEDx presenter, she is known to inspire others to live a more compassionate and authentic life. Her fourth novel, Perennials, released November 14.
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