Sexy, Smart and Strong – NYTBSA, Barbara Delinsky

If you have never read one of Barbara Delinsky’s 70+ books, you need to correct that right now. I haven’t read them all but, I’ve read many and my favorite is Looking For Peyton Place. My next favorite is Coast Road, which was the first of Ms. Delinsky’s books that I read.

Some of you may remember the TV show Peyton Place (yes, I’m really dating myself). It was considered racy back in 1964 but, oh, was it loved- in it’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ style. I was too young in 1957 (5 years old), when it was released as a film nor was I old enough to read Grace Metalious‘ book (published 1956), Peyton Place, on which the movie and television series was based. The story was set in a small town filled with small minds. Their lives held no secrets and their minds were often focused on sex, cheating and lying.

In Looking For Peyton Place, Annie Barnes was raised in a similar small town where most of the residents believed that Metalious’ book was written about them. Annie escaped the suffocating atmosphere but, later had to return to deal with family issues. The book’s blurb begins, “For Annie Barnes, going home to Middle River means dealing with truths long hidden, some of which she buried there herself. But it is a journey she knows she must take if she is to put to rest, once and for all, her misgivings about her mother’s recent death.”

Coast Road, unlike her other works usually set in New England, was set in Big Sur, a place Ms. Delinsky visited often. Here’s the blurb. Oh, it brings back so many memories of reading this story:

“Jack McGill chose his architectural career over his family, and returned home from yet another business trip to find that his wife, Rachel, had left him. Now, six years later, a car accident has left Rachel clinging to life, and she and their two daughters desperately need him. Putting work on hold for the first time in his life, Jack decides to sit by his ex-wife’s bedside. As he meets Rachel’s many new friends, and tries to cope with two teenage daughters and their problems, he learns more about a woman he never really knew, her expressive art, and the secret that made her leave. Much to his astonishment, Jack begins to see Rachel, his daughters, and the story of his marriage with new eyes.”

The characters become your family, the settings are rich, the endings are perfect. Barbara’s stories are relatable, in that they are about the real emotional crises we face over our lifetimes. Any one of us could be a model for her characters.

But…this is not a book review. This is a look at a very successful author and what path lead her to this place in life.

What makes Barbara Delinsky sexy, smart, strong and a woman who lives from the heart? My thoughts on that question:

Sexy: Considering everything I’ve read about Barbara Delinsky, I believe she’s her own woman, not some cardboard cut-out celebrity. What I mean is, she doesn’t put on airs. She behaves as she really is.

She has her own writing style, not something fashioned after other successful writers, she takes care of her family and home, but switches hats to take care of her business and her readers-writing beautiful books and doing the hard work of touring to connect with as many fans as she can.

Smart: Barbara didn’t begin adulthood knowing she wanted to be a writer. At Tufts University she earned her B.A. in Psychology and later her M.A in Sociology at Boston College. She went on to work as a photographer and reporter, after her first son was born, for the Belmont Herald newspaper. The reporting was secondary to the photography, but it wasn’t long before she realized she was a better writer than photographer.

A few years later, she happened upon a news article featuring three female authors. The story created the spark that resulted in researching and writing her own book. She kept on writing, sometimes using a pseudonym, continually perfecting her skills.  Over 30 million copies of her books have been sold in 25 different languages.

Strong:  Barbara has experienced loss and fear very close to home. At age 8, she lost her mother to cancer. She bravely carried on. Barbara found a need to do that again in the mid-1990s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She came through the surgery and treatments stronger and ready to get back to her writing.

Lives From the Heart: Barbara, even while writing and publishing a book every year, was a loving wife and a very involved mother to her 3 sons. She served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and on the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Women’s Cancer Advisory Board.

In 2001 she wrote and published a “handbook of practical tips and upbeat anecdotes…compiled with the help of 350 breast cancer survivors, their families and friends” entitled Uplift: Secrets From the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors. All of the proceeds from this book are donated to her charitable foundation which funds an ongoing research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

One of my reading goals is to read ever single one of Barbara Delinsky’s books. They are that good!

Since I’m such a huge groupie, I decided to write to Barbara to ask her why she feels she’s sexy, smart and lives from the heart. She was gracious enough to respond right away with a lovely answer:Barbara Delinsky

Dear Marcia:
I’m honored to be part of your series.  Here’s my input:
Q.  What makes me smart, sexy, and living from the heart?

A.  Breast cancer.  Following my diagnosis (sixteen years ago), I realized that the fine things in life are too good to miss.  Hence, I have a hunger for learning new things, a heightened awareness of my own femininity, and an enriched appreciation of family and friends.

Thank you, Barbara…for your time and for sharing your talent for storytelling with us.

If you have somehow been reading all these years and never came across Barbara’s work, you must visit her site. There are a few things about Barbara I didn’t include here. Go discover them for yourself – read her bio, her interview questions and listen to the podcasts. Learn what she loves to eat, what is her passion besides writing, how she feels about cooking and why she writes about daughters so often but has 3 sons at home. There are several podcasts to choose from, blog posts to read and a page dedicated to her books. Go have fun!

Can you imagine writing as many books? If you’ve read her books, what did you think? If you loved them, what was your favorite? If you haven’t read any of her books, what are you waiting for?

You know I love hearing from you! Please share your thoughts!

If you know a Sexy, Smart, Strong woman and would like to see her featured in this series, please let me know in your comments.

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18 thoughts on “Sexy, Smart and Strong – NYTBSA, Barbara Delinsky

  1. You all are wonderful. Thanks for your comments. And Marcia, thanks for posting this fabulous blog. You know how to reach me — I’d love to keep in touch.

    • Don’t feel badly, Tameri. It’s never too late to try one!
      I admire the courage of women who have fought cancer and other life threatening illnesses. They are mighty inspiring.

  2. Being nine years older than you, I did watch the TV series, although I didn’t see the movie or read the book.

    I don’t have a specific nominee as a smart, sexy, strong woman, because I see most of my Tweeps and blog followers as fitting that description. The other 5% are male.

    • You could be diplomatic, David. You know, choose names from a hat. Or you could choose outside of you writer friends. 🙂 9 years, huh? You sure don’t look it! I was surprised my mother allowed me to watch the TV series, as I was 12-14. I still think about Chris Connelly from back then—yeah, major crush.

  3. I don’t think I have read her books, but will correct that immediately. My mom used to always say we lived in Peyton Place (small town) so I’m intrigued by that title right away.

    Also, I just love how you feature other writers and their books, Marcia. You live up to your blog’s name of “sexy, smart, from the heart” with each post. 🙂

I love it when you tell me what you think!

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