Elizabeth Penney is the author of the APRON SHOP SERIES and the forthcoming CAMBRIDGE BOOKSHOP SERIES for St. Martin’s Press. Elements that often appear in her novels include vintage summer cottages, past/present mysteries, and the arts.
Elizabeth’s writing credits include over thirty mysteries and women’s fiction novels, short stories, and hundreds of business articles. A former consultant and nonprofit executive, she holds a BS and an MBA. She’s also written screenplays with her musician husband.
Interview by Elise Cooper
Q. How did you get the idea for the story?
Elizabeth: My mother is from England and went to nursing school there. I lived there when I was little. Just like the main character’s mom, my mother married an American and left. Because I have relatives who live there, I set it in Cambridge England in a bookstore of an old Tudor building of the 1600s.
Q. Why a bookstore in Cambridge?
Elizabeth: It has several bookstores and is a city that values them. I made sure to have the store sell antique books because the city has a lot of literary history. In the story I wrote about the “OZ” books. To be realistic I looked up what a first edition would be worth.
Q. You added flavor to the story by explaining the “English language.” Tell us about that.
Elizabeth: Words in England have different meanings than in the US. Words such as crumpet which we call an English Muffin, fit which we refer to as attractive, skip is not a movement in England but means alley, and their 999 is our 911. My main character Molly is American, and she comes across some of these terms. It was how she was introduced to the English culture.
Q. What about English culture?
Elizabeth: I spoke with online groups who live in England. This is why I put in the book how the English drink coffee. A lot of tea shops now sell coffee.
Q How would you describe Molly?
Elizabeth:I nquisitive, outgoing, and sociable. She is also enthusiastic, smart, kind, and a people person who loves cats. Her profession is a librarian, which helps with her sleuth work. Both use research skills.
Q. How would you describe Kiernan?
Elizabeth: He will eventually be Molly’s love interest. He is from nobility but wants to be just a regular guy. He is very independent, warm, friendly, and supportive.
Q. Most of the time victims are sympathetic but not this one?
Elizabeth: She is manipulative, devious, sly, sneaky, and is blackmailing people.
Q. What role does the journal play?
Elizabeth: I joined this Cambridge group to get a feel for the culture. The journal allows me to have a past thread and to give readers a feel of what happened in the past.
Q. What’s your next book?
Elizabeth: It is titled Treacherous Tale and will be out next September. In it, Molly will visit Kiernan’s family in their manor. Instead of a journal there will be a children’s book called Strawberry Girls, which I made up. A mother wrote it for her daughters who are now young adults. It is a fairy tale and gives clues to what happened in the story. The mystery involves a man falling off the roof of their cottage and dies.
Review by Elise Cooper
Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney brings to life a fabulous cozy mystery. This first of the series has a community readers will care about, detailed descriptions of the town, and an engaging mystery with blackmail, deceit, and murder. Beyond that the author chose the historic town of Cambridge England set in a 400-year-old bookshop.
After the death of her father Molly Kimball realizes her mother Nina needs a change of scenery. When a letter arrives from an aunt who lives in Cambridge requesting their help in running the family bookshop Nina and Molly decide to travel to Britain. Since Molly is a librarian, she comes up with ideas on how to bring in revenue to the bookstore, “Thomas Marlow-Manuscripts and Folios.” She invites her Aunt Violet’s college classmate, famed poet Persephone Brightwell to hold a reading in the shop. Unfortunately, at the end of the event another of Violet’s college roommates, Myrtle Marsh, is found dead, killed with her aunt’s knitting needle.
Molly and some new friends try to prove Aunt Violet’s innocence since she is considered a person of interest. Besides Molly and Nina, there is Sir John, a former lawyer and spy, George, landlord, and handyman, Daisy, a coffeeshop owner, and Kiernan, a bicycle shop owner who Molly begins dating.
This cozy mystery has a captivating setting, engaging characters, buried secrets, and a suspenseful mystery with many people of interest and twists and turns.
Elizabeth Penney's Latest
It started as a chance encounter on the beach, and ended 24 hours later when they parted to go their separate ways.
Or so they thought.
Actually it was just the beginning.
WHEN LAUREN CANTRELL said goodbye to the guy she had just met on the beach, she had no way of knowing their paths would ever cross again. But fate had another unexpected meeting in store for them—this time in a place where danger was part of the culture and the stakes were life and death.
THE LAST PERSON in the world Rad expected to see at a special ops briefing in Afghanistan is the girl he met at the beach two weeks ago—the one he can’t stop thinking about.
From the sundrenched beaches of Ocean City, Md., to the snowcapped mountains of Afghanistan, this thrilling tale of espionage and intrigue takes readers on a spellbinding journey into the secret lives of our nation’s quiet heroes—and answers the question:
What do you do when the person you most want to protect is the one risking everything to make sure you survive?
MEANT TO BE recounts the dedication of our military, the honor and sacrifice of our soldiers, and a relationship that is tested and sustained by the powerful forces of love, courage and resolve.