A 2017 Fall Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), Perennials is Julie Cantrell’s fourth novel. Set in her hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, this story examines family relationships, small town struggles, and the power of forgiveness. Perennials hits shelves November 14.
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—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Miss., surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything . . . especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.
Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. 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—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.
In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.
When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at 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 right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning 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 never what they seemed.
Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, teacher, and TEDx presenter. She has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and has earned starred reviews by both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. Cantrell is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship and was named a finalist for the 2017 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Fiction Award. Perennials is her fourth novel.
For an exclusive Q&A session with the author, click here.