Novelist Eileen Goudge introduced me to Capitola’s historic, colorful beach villas.

Had I known how beautiful this little seaside town was, I would have come here sooner.

Believe it or not, it is renowned as the oldest beach resort on the West Coast. Its name mimicks that of a heroine in a novel dating back to the 1867: The Hidden Hand, by E.D.E.N. Southworth.

If you guessed E.D.E.N. was a woman, you're right. To get published back then, many women wrote under pseudonyms, which could be taken for men's names, and gain an audience.

The villas, shown above, are the very first condominums. Go figure. Wish I owned one now. They overlook Monterrey Bay, scanning it from its north shore. The old Capitola Pier is still standing, and far enough out to fish from it.

The day we were there with novelist Eileen Goudge, a seal was frolicking in the surf.

Thank goodness Eileen and I can use our real names. Her books, wonderful tales of contemporary women who have had a fall from grace but find redemption, are tightly plotted. My favorite is Woman in Red.

But hey Eileen writes so prolifically, you'll have several others to read afterward.


— Josie

I KNOW I love you, Allison Pearson

David_cassidy_06-01 We all have our favorite authors. One of mine happens to be the British columnist, Allison Pearson, who, in 2002, wrote the penultimate way-we-everywomen-live-now novel, I Don't Know How She Does It

If you haven't read it, well shame on you. It is a witty, subversive book in which the heroine, Kate, is, by all societal measures, "has it all": a high-falutin' job in international finance, a loving husband who's willing to pick up the slack whenever she has to fly around the world to cut a deal, children who only want more of their loving mom at their side–

And yet…and yet… she knows something is missing from her life . . .

Ah, yes: balance.

Perhaps that would allow her to appreciate her guy both in and out of the sack; and to be there for her kids; and to quit all those dirty little political one-ups-manship games we play at work in order to appease inconsiderate bosses who play favorites and forget all we've done for them.

I Think I Love You Allison Pearson A textfest with an American client tempts Kate to stray. But Pearson's heroine is no Madame Bovary. Suffice it to say that I Don't Know How She Does It is a book you won't be able to put down–

And it will leave you asking the same question I did, eight years ago: "What's next, Allison?"

Floating around Facebook one day, I found my answer. Allison has a fan page there. Lo and behold, her second novel came out recently, in England. Called I THINK I LOVE YOU, it chronicles the tale of a woman whose life has been less than she'd hoped–all because of a missed opportunity involving her teen crush on the pop singer, David Cassidy.

In other words, Allison's new book channels my youth.

Okay, yeah, I'll admit it: I too papered the walls of my bedroom with pages from Tiger Beat that bore David's dimpled smile.

  There on Facebook, someone else, also from the US, commented that they'd just discovered I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT, and had tremendously enjoyed it. I ditto'd that–and bemoaned the fact that I THINK I LOVE YOU would not be released here in the States until February 2011.

Low and behold, a few days later I got a sweet message from Allison, offering to send me an copy of the book from her personal stash.

It arrived on Friday, and I can't wait to dig in.

As it happens, I did a library fundraiser last week with Jane Smiley, Joshilyn Jackson, Tatjana Soli and Eileen Goudge. During dinner, Jane casually asked what we were reading. I'm in the middle of Tatjana's book, THE LOTUS EATERS, which has gotten rave reviews. Then I added (a bit guiltily, because it seems that "serious" books are bandied about more than those that make us laugh) "–and I'll soon have Allison Pearson's latest. It's not released here, but she's sending me a copy. I so loved her first book."

"Oh, yes, 'I Don't Know How She Does It'. I liked it too," said Jane.

"I don't know her," Joshilyn responded.

Both Jane and I strongly recommended Allison's novel. The discussion then shifted to why funny books get overlooked for awards and accolades (shades of Franzenfruede!), and other female British authors who write with a satiric wit, like Nancy Mitford. Joshilyn named another whose name I now forget, but she sounded like an excellent read. (Joss: please email it to me, so that I may look her up!)

Allison, you'll be happy to know you're in good company.

I don't know how she does it, but I'm glad she does,


Josie's Latest Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it TODAY!

got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community
of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an
OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever
dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading."
–Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives

Libraries get creative to gain your support.


Forget the cabbage patch. I'm sure I was born  between the stacks of the Decatur (GA) Public Library. It was a great place for a prodigious reader such as myself to read, dream and learn.

I still make my home in my in my local library system — Marin County. It's where I conduct the research for my books. My children know its various branches by heart: the tall leaded windows in the soft mauve Sausalito branch, where the playground outside beckons; the Mill Valley branch, located deep in the redwoods, with its large hearth fireplace; the Corte Madera branch, with its fabulous reference department; tony Tiburon-Belvedere, with its welcoming wingback chairs and lots of quiet alcoves; the Larkspur branch, cozy and friendly, as is the San Anselmo branch, in its classic town hall. Marin City branch librarians always have welcoming smiles for their patron, and the Civic Center branch is stately and always fascinating. Fairfax reflects its community: funky, friendly and full of joy.

All libraries need a financial lift.

In fact, I've helped organize an event, happening in on September 16, 2010, 7:30pm, in Seattle: Between the Pages will benefit the Kitsap Regional Libary Foundation, which serves the islands in Seattle Bay. It takes place on Bainbridge Island (Bainbridge Performing Arts Center, 200 Madison Ave, N).

I hope you can join me, along with Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley, and New York Times bestselling authors Eileen Goudge, Joshilyn Jackson, and Tatjana Soli for this wonderful event. We'll be reading from our books, and answering your questions.

In order to garner attention, libraries have to get creative, too. I like the way Brigham Young University students have taken matters into their own hands and created a great video ad that is catching on virally with us webheads. It's a spoof on the new Old Spice commercial currently on the air. Whereas it's message is why the school's library is a great place to study, the message I get is….


Um . . . what were you saying again?



Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

 Order it

"Hollywood's got nothing on
the cast of characters living in
bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money
and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled
observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly
entertaining reading."

, bestselling author of Hollywood Wives