Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pennell uses Louisiana as setting for 'Young Wives Club'

Julie Pennell grew up in Shreveport and graduated with a journalism degree from Louisiana Tech. Although she lives in Brooklyn now, contributing to Teen Vogue, TODAY and The Nest, among other publications, she sets her first novel, “The Young Wives Club,” in her home state. The book takes place in Toulouse, a fictional town of 2,154 people that’s located outside of Lafayette, focusing on four women who fall in love young.

Claire and Laura marry early, giving up whatever dreams they may have had for their husband’s. Laura marries her high school sweetheart who receives a scholarship to LSU and Claire marries Gavin, a young minister with whom she immediately has a child. Madison loves a musician who won’t commit and Gabrielle adores a wealthy Tulane student with political ambition who is oblivious to Gabby’s lies. 

Naturally, conflict ensues. Laura’s quarterback husband is injured, forcing them to move back to Toulouse while he saves up for an operation. Meanwhile, Laura goes back to high school and discovers more about herself. Claire spots her husband at a strip club, Madison uses an older friend of the family to make her man jealous while Gabby runs into trouble keeping family secrets from a man she has agreed to marry. All four women assist each other as they attempt to sort out their love lives. Meanwhile, the cast of characters roams in and out of South Louisiana.

“It takes place around Lafayette (there are even some scenes there),” Pennell wrote me by email. “I grew up in Shreveport but have a bunch of family in the area (including my dad) so Lafayette has a special place in my heart — which is why I chose to use the area as the setting.”

“The Young Wives Club” is a charming book about first love, bad choices and eventually growing up.  

New releases
Roy Wyble III is an author, speaker and consultant with the Addictive Solutions and he has published “Self Will,” a memoir based on his experiences as a severely active alcoholic. Wyble has dedicated himself to helping families currently affected by alcohol.

Levy Lecture
The Spring 2017 Flora Plonsky Levy Lecture will be the “Transcendence in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens” by George Lensing, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 112 of Olive Hall on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus. Lensing enjoys national recognition as the authority on Stevens and is the author of “Wallace Stevens and the Seasons” and “Wallace Stevens: A Poet’s Growth” and coauthor of “Four Poets and the Emotive Imagination: The Poetry of Robert Bly, James Wright, Louis Simpson, and William Stafford.”  A third Stevens book will be published in Fall 2017 by LSU Press.


Faulkner contest
The William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition seeks new, talented writers to assist them in finding literary agents and publishers for their work. Submission and awards are in the following categories for previously unpublished writing: novel/book-length fiction, $7,500; non-fiction book, $2,000; novella, $1,500; short story, $1,500; novel-in-progress, $1,500; essay, $750; poetry, $750 and short story by a high school student, $750. The deadline is May 1. Winners will be announced on Faulkner’s birthday, Sept. 25. For further details including dates, competition requirements and entry forms, visit www.wordsandmusic.org or email Faulkhouse@aol.com. 

Book events
Miriam Davis signs “The Axeman of New Orleans” at 6 p.m. Monday, March 13, at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Also at Octavia this week: Jim Dees signs “The Statue and the Fury: A Year of Art, Race, Music and Cocktails” at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Dees is the author of “Lies and Other Truths: Rants, Raves, Low-Lifes and Highballs” and the editor of “They Write Among Us: New Stories and Essays From the Best of Oxford Writers.” Since 2000, he has been the host of “The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour,” a music and literature program heard weekly on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.