THE FIVE W’S
Of Jeanine Cummins
WHO? Who are you besides a writer?
I am a mama of two gorgeous and exhausting little girls, which means I am also a cook, housekeeper, laundress, hair stylist, personal shopper, chauffer, and caffeine addict. I am also lucky to be wifey to a very handsome and supportive Irishman.
WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
We recently moved out of New York City to a little Hudson River town, which we love. We bought kayaks and bikes, and we love being outdoors whenever weather permits. Kids and dogs are high-energy, so we do what we can to wear them out. Whenever I have the luxury of a date-night with my husband, we like to hit up some of the great live-music venues in NYC.
WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first novel at age seven. It was scribbled on loose leaf and then trapped into a blue, three-ring binder with smiley-face stickers on the front. It was about a little girl who skateboards across America. So I guess that’s when I knew. Although in fairness, at that age I also wanted to be an archaeologist, a jockey, and Annie on Broadway. I didn’t have red hair, so it was probably never going to work out. The writing seemed like a good backup plan.
WHERE? Where do you write?
Remember that handsome, supportive husband I mentioned earlier? Well he did this thing for me last year: we bought a new house, and there was no dedicated office space for me. It was my dream house in every other way, so I determined that, with our kids in school during the day, I didn’t really need a dedicated writing studio. So we set about doing the renovations we had to complete before we moved in. And then, on our anniversary, he called me and asked me to meet him at the house, where he revealed that he had been hard at work building me a SECRET WRITING STUDIO above the detached garage. It looks out over the treetops and the Hudson River. Like my husband, it is close to perfect.
WHY? Why do you write?
Because I’m not cut out for real work? Okay, joking aside: I write because I am compelled to write. I can’t imagine a life for myself without writing. I consider myself enormously lucky that I can do this thing that I love, and then people actually read my work, and I am able to make a living at it. I just love words and stories, and I think I’d be surrounding myself with them no matter what. I will continue making stories for as long as I can.
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The Crooked Branch
by Jeanine Cummins
(From Goodreads): From the national bestselling and highly acclaimed author of The Outside Boy comes the deeply moving story of two mothers—witty, self-deprecating Majella, who is shocked by her entry into motherhood in modern-day New York, and her ancestor, tough and terrified Ginny Doyle, whose battles are more fundamental: she must keep her young family alive during Ireland’s Great Famine.
After the birth of her daughter Emma, the usually resilient Majella finds herself feeling isolated and exhausted. Then, at her childhood home in Queens, Majella discovers the diary of her maternal ancestor Ginny—and is shocked to read a story of murder in her family history.
With the famine upon her, Ginny Doyle fled from Ireland to America, but not all of her family made it. What happened during those harrowing years, and why does Ginny call herself a killer? Is Majella genetically fated to be a bad mother, despite the fierce tenderness she feels for her baby? Determined to uncover the truth of her heritage and her own identity, Majella sets out to explore Ginny’s past—and discovers surprising truths about her family and ultimately, herself.
According to Booklist, THE CROOKED BRANCH is “wonderfully written, with strong, compelling characters, it is a deeply satisfying combination of sweeping historical saga and modern family drama, a gentle reminder of the ever-reaching influence of family, both near and far.”
“An exploration of the fierce, primal love of motherhood that connects us all through generations.”
—Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife
“[Cummins] touches all the tender places with exquisite timing.”
—Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Solomon’s Oak and Finding Casey
“Insightful, suspenseful, and sometimes bitingly funny…Immensely satisfying.”
—Simone St. James, author of An Inquiry into Love and Death
“Lyrical, emotional and often funny…[An] extraordinary novel.”
—Patti Callahan Henry, author of Coming Up for Air and Driftwood Summer
“A gorgeous, sweeping novel…that grips you from the first page and keeps you in its thrall.”
—Carolyn Turgeon, author of Godmother
“A haunting tale of motherhood and the ways in which it can ravage—and resurrect.”
—Kelly O’Connor McNees author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and In Need of a Good Wife