Meet Maxine and Odessa, the Queen Mamas of Castlerock, Texas. They may be getting on in years, but good luck keeping up with them! Most days they're on the prowl at the Five Acres of Fabulous Finds Flea Market, searching for treasures among the trash, and turning life on its heels for:
* Jan, the "perfect" former cheerleader with a big secret
* Bernadette, the bridal shop owner who seems destined for singlehood
* Chloe, the trouble magnet needing fashion intervention and a boyfriend makeover
|Publisher:||Steeple Hill Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.13(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.76(d)|
About the Author
Award winning author, Annie Jones, has always been a romantic who used to read Bride magazine when all her friends were stuck on Tiger Beat. From the moment she finished reading her first romance novel she knew that she wanted to write stories like that. She has been doing so for 15 years now and each new couple she creates still renews her faith in happily ever after.
Read an Excerpt
"Sisters, girlfriends and troublemakers—you know who you are—you are fearfully and wonderfully made! In other words, God doesn't make junk. Thankfully, his children do, and that's why we have been blessed with flea markets just about everywhere."
"The queen has spoken!"
"My name is Odessa Pepperdine, and I am not just some silver-haired small-town queen bee,my dears.I am the Queen Mama of all queen bees in the sweet little hive of friends I have made among the shoppers and shopkeepers at the Castlerock, Texas,Five Acres of Fabulous Finds Flea Market. And it was on my say-so that we titled this little bit here Chapter One."
"Even though, you'll soon discover, the real Chapter One doesn't actually get started in earnest for a few more paragraphs."
"That's Maxine Cooke-Nash, my sister in Christ and formerly—"
"Stranger in the community.That's what Odessa always says about us.'Sisters in Christ, strangers in the community.'We grew up living parallel lives on opposite sides of the proverbial tracks."
"I said proverbial. You know, just my delicate way of letting folks know that we stuck to opposite sides of town, you keeping company with people from your church, and me staying mostly inside the African-American community."
"Only back then, when we were young, they didn't use that term, African-American."
"Oh, no, they didn't."
"They say you can never describe things in terms of black and white, but Maxine and I can tell you, if you were coming up in Castlerock in the nineteen-fifties and -sixties you could."
"And coming up back then, Maxine and I were both active in the Campfire Girls, then went on to play high school basketball—probably against one another more than once. Later we each graduated top of our classes at Christian colleges, married ministers and settled down to raise our children, all within a few miles of one another. And we never met until we both tried to buy the same thing at the flea market."
"Are we telling this part now?"
"Oh. Oh, no. No, actually, we really do have something in mind in starting out things this way. As I said, I'm Odessa and this is Maxine. Say hello properly, Maxine."
"Hi,y'all.Don't mind me.I may not say much,especially when Odessa is holding forth—and let's be up front, when is she not holding forth or holding court or holding just about anything except back?" "Ahem."
"Anyway, I may not say much, but when I do speak up, I try to make it about something worthy of the effort."
"And she does. She certainly does. Take what she had to say about the way I wanted to begin to tell the story about what happened when...well, there I'm getting ahead of myself."
"Which she does, and I have to rein her in."
"We're a good team like that, aren't we, Maxine?"
"Yes, we are. In fact, when it comes to reining in Odessa, I'm just about the only one who can anymore."
"Before...well, before all the things between the pages of this book happened, I never needed reining in. I was raised to be seen and not heard. Encouraged to be a good little minister's wife in the way of ninja-style church ladies everywhere, who appear when they are needed and disappear into the wood-paneled walls of the church basement when their service is not required."
"I cannot feature that, Odessa."
"Of course you can't,because now I am what people like to call 'irrepressible."
I've heard other words used to describe you, Miz Pepperdine."
"Oh, Maxine, you crack me up."
"Likewise, Odessa honey."
"See, we get each other. We speak the same language, you might say. Though we did not start out on the best of speaking terms at all. Oh, there now, that reminds me! I was explaining about the way we decided to start our story out."
"How?" "You know, with Chapter One, the way you said. Uh, oh, let me tell this right.Maxine said that whenever she sees a big bold heading like Foreword or AWord from the Author or sometimes even Prologue, she tends to just skim right over it."
"I do. I'm sorry. But I think reading a book is a lot like eating a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich—"
"Which is her favorite."
"Which is my favorite."
"My favorite used to be a nice simple chicken salad, but I like my food with a bolder flavor these days."
"Odessa's chicken-salad days are behind her."
"Ever since I finally got fed up enough to throw good taste out the window!"
"Odessa, she likes to come up with a catch phrase for just about everything that happens to her."
"And, oh, what happened to me at the flea market when... No. No, that's not what we were talking about. What was it, Maxine? Your love of a good BLT?"
"My love of a good book, actually, by way of my favorite sandwich. See, often I think reading a book is a lot like a bacon and lettuce and tomato sandwich on toast served up on my favorite lunch platter with chips and a pickle on the side. Done right, it all looks so good, but I am anxious to sink my teeth in and get to the meat of it."
"But the meat of a book to one person might be nothing more than the olive stuck on a toothpick to hold the thing together to someone else, Maxine. So a book is not a sandwich."
"Well, a case could be made for that metaphor, Odessa.You know, with all the layers of story and setting and themes and—"
"No. I absolutely reject that analogy. If you have to compare a book to something edible and layered, you'd have to go with a hand-dipped chocolate truffle."
"One woman's chocolate is another woman's BLT. Now clink coffee cups with me, so we can be in agreement and move on."
Clink. "Anyway, when Maxine and I began this—" "Ages and pages ago." "Mumbling is not very agreeable, Maxine." "Point taken."
Clink. "We,Maxine and I,began this as Chapter One because we are both ladies of a certain age who were brought up right."
"That dictates that we take a minute to introduce ourselves before we launch into our story."
"I mean, really, I wouldn't just walk up to a total stranger in the library and shout, "Call me Ishmael' or 'Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful." Would you, Maxine?"
"No, I would not.At least not without offering them my hand, giving them my name and telling them why I wanted to say what I had to say."
"That's just good manners."
"And if Maxine and I are about anything, it's good manners."
"And using them to get our way."
"Which is why you'll understand and hopefully forgive us that we stuck Chapter One on this part that might normally have said, you know, Foreword or Prologue." "Which is the part I usually skim over."
"And Maxine and I? Let me tell you, we are not women to be skimmed over!"
"No. Not anymore. Our days of being skimmed over are past us. We put in our time as mild-mannered ministers' wives, and now have come the days of speaking our minds and acting on the desires of our hearts!"
"We were mild mannered, not our husbands. Just so there's no confusion. Because at this point, you might find it hard to think of either Odessa or me as ever having been the kind most likely to inherit the Earth."
"She means meek, for those of you who might not have picked up the Bible reference."
"See? We really are minister's wives."
"Though not mild-mannered ministers, though they are both darling men in their own rights."
"Oh,yes.Precious men.Smart and funny and Godly,both of them, through and through."
"Yes, well, I called them darling and you called them precious, and non-Texan types might take that to mean unmanly,which they are not, not one bit."
"No, they are men, through and through."
"Which is why, once they retired, Odessa and I started going to the flea market, to escape from—"
"To find respite."
"To find respite for a few hours each week from our retired hubbies." "Oh, and to try to collect for ourselves the one thing we each wanted with all our worldly beings."
"Ever since we were each young—and I do mean young— brides in the nineteen-sixties."
"The entire twenty-piece line of chip-proof kitchenware made by the Royal Service Company of Akron, Ohio, the black-and-gold-on-white Hostess Queen pattern."
Clink. "Anyway, we just wanted to introduce ourselves up front and let you know a little something about ourselves and this BLT of a story..."
"...that we have to share, and why we have to share it."
"You see, Maxine and me, we weren't always Queen Mamas."
"No, we were not."
"Or queen bees."
"Worker bees, more like it."
"Which isn't a bad thing, now, but..."
"But the time comes when even a drone has to stop and look around herself and say,'It's time to create a buzz."
"And oh, what a buzz Odessa made!"
"I did. Though I didn't do it just for myself. I did it for all of us."
"The women who are strangers in their own communities."
"Who are all wonderfully and fearfully made."
"There's the meat of the story, Maxine, right there." "Shh.You're getting ahead again, when all we wanted to do with this introduction part—That's what we could have called it, the Introduction."
"And you're telling me you wouldn't have skimmed something called the Introduction?"
"Well, no...I am a skimmer, I do confess."
"Right. And if we got other skimmers in the crowd, and they went into the story, and suddenly you or I popped in with a comment..."
"It might throw things off. Say, Maxine, have you ever heard that expression a month of Sundays?"
"What now, Odessa?"
"I was just thinking how the story of when we first all got thrown together until the incident was just about a month—of flea markets."
"You mean the span of four flea markets?"
"No, I mean... let me see, from July Fourth until Labor Day, weekly flea markets, lasting three days—except we never come out on Sundays,being as that's the Lord's Day— but you can count it because some things happened on Sundays. So that means..."
"Hold on, Odessa is trying to do the math in her head.This could take a minute. I'd tell you to go read a book, but I'm sort of hoping you already are!"
"Got it. Three days a week over about nine weeks, plus extra for Labor Day weekend, makes twenty-eight days, so that's right. About a month of flea markets from start to finish to tell the story of how our new friends Jan, Bernadette and Chloe—"
"Ahem." "Oh, right, don't want to give too much away."
"Let's just say it involves some collectible kitsch and some baked goods."
"Oh, and don't forget to mention—"
"The tiaras.The story is just jam-packed with tiaras."
"Hey, a woman wears a lot of hats in her lifetime. Why shouldn't one of them be a crown?"
Clink. "And also a hot-air balloon." "I got nothing for that one. So I'll see y'all on the next page, as I intend to start off and probably wrap up every chapter from here on out. Just my way of keeping things on track, you know."
"Odessa means just her way of being the big queen boss of all things, even your reading pleasure."
"Please note that Maxine wore the sweetest, warmest smile ever as she said that."
"I did.You know, it's always enjoyable to watch people doing the things that they are best at doing, and our Odessa, she is the very best at being the boss. So that's the way it's going to be. Me and Odessa having our say as we—and by we I mean mostly Odessa—see fit. God bless, and enjoy!"
"And don't forget..."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I liked the premise of the story. I love shopping for bargains so it was fun to read about having a booth in a flea market. The characters are really zany and very colorful. You can tell that they enjoy life and want to help others to see life as they do. I liked Bernadette and the quest to get a boyfriend for her. And I so wanted to smack Odessa's husband throughout most of the book for having to make her suffer. I felt really sad that she felt that way as a pastor's wife. I'm sure that there are many of them out of there who feel the exact same way. However I didn't feel that this was the author's best work. I really liked her mom-lit novels and was hoping this would have been along the lines except for an older audience. Instead, the storyline is rather confusing and I never really did gel with the characters. The prologue in the beginning with Odessa and Maxine trading off the narration really confused me because I couldn't tell who was who. I just felt like I never really got into the story which was sad to me because I do enjoy Annie's other books. It could be because I'm not the target age group for the book. So maybe if you're in the hen-lit crowd, you'll find that this book is perfect for you.