by Robbi McCoy
The open road is the only place that seems safe to Shirley “Mutt” Hopper. Escaping her Mississippi home, she joins the other wanderers, riding freight trains and working in fields and orchards across the United States. When she begs a night’s sleep in a Nebraska barn, she can’t imagine how completely the lovely farmer’s daughter, Annie Callahan, is about to change her life.
Many years and hard knocks later, Mutt finds that at least Annie was able to pursue her dreams. Now a glamorous, wealthy and pampered movie star married to one of Hollywood’s leading men, Annie seems totally out of reach.
How could Mutt possibly take away Annie’s perfect life, even in the name of love?
It’s bum times and good times and the power of love in a sweeping romance from the award-winning author of Not Every River and Spring Tide!
Lambda Literary Awards
Farmer's Daughter, Winner, Lesbian Romance.
GCLS Goldie Awards
The Farmer's Daughter — Finalist, Lesbian Historical Fiction.
Historical Fiction at its Best! McCoy's writing style is rich and evocative. A great joy to read. With a few sentences the Southern summer, the spring or whatever she sets her pen to come alive and engage all senses. The characters are multi-dimensional and engaging... Where there was despair hope prevails.
Terry's Lesfic Reviews
...This goes beyond any run of the mill romance story, although there is a deep and emotional, forever kind of love running through the book... This is on my re-read list to read at a more leisurely pace, so I can savor the story without the pressure of not knowing the ending.
More Praise for Robbi McCoy
Winner - Two Golden Crown Literary Society Goldies
I buy every single book written by Robbi McCoy without even looking at the storyline. I know I’m going to get an excellent, well written, refreshingly different read with each new book. I am never disappointed. - Lesbian Reading Room
Robbi McCoy excels at developing her characters... One of the finest of the lesbian romance authors by building a body of work that stands above the crowd. - Just About Write
McCoy writes with loving humor - Reviewer R Lynne
She pushed through the screen door onto the wide front porch with its ancient but still functional glider and dozens of wind chimes hanging from every available spot, creating a lively enclosure of shells, metal, glass and ceramic, all of it quivering in the breeze in a mosaic of shape and color, and of course sound. Ringing, dinging, clanging, tinkling bits of detritus collected from city streets, junkyards and beaches, resurrected and reimagined in the minds of many nascent artists, each was a unique and personal gift from someone who had come here and then moved on. These diverse creations were a celebration of those people and a reminder of how they had enriched her life. Singing jubilantly, they surrounded her like a loving embrace.
She reached up to finger a ring of thin metal suspended on a wire, one of eight such rings fashioned from tin cans, arranged strategically so they played against each other’s edges. This mobile was rusty with age, but occupied a place of honor between the two columns framing the entrance to the porch. This had been the first. She still loved to hear its melody, a light, tinny clanking that transported her through time and space as certain sounds and odors do. She gave it a jiggle to excite a tune from it.
She placed her cane carefully ahead of her feet as she took each of the three stairs down from the musical haven of the porch into the front yard where a beagle ran up to her, tail wagging. He followed her down the path and through the gate to the road, where she retrieved the day’s mail. The mailbox was stuffed with a triumph of pastel-colored envelopes addressed by hand to “Ms. Shirley Hopper” and originating from all over the country. She clutched these covetously close and smiled to herself, aware as she often was these days that her life was and had been full. Young people didn’t write letters anymore, but at least some of them still sent birthday cards in the mail.
Thinking about her age, she had trouble comprehending the span of her life. The years just seemed to sneak up while a person wasn’t looking, and pretty soon the way forward looks quite a bit shorter, and the way back looks improbably distant, so far away that it fades into a fog and the details blur and mix themselves up. The reason it seems like it went so fast, she had decided long ago, is that one forgets so much. Whole months of one’s life, totally forgotten. It was entirely possible that more had been forgotten than remembered, especially in these later years. You can’t choose what you remember, but that’s okay because in her experience people remembered more good than bad. At least she did. Bad memories were dulled by time until she almost never thought of them anymore and no longer felt a sting from their long-eroded barbs.
On her way back to the house with her birthday booty, she paused beside the peach tree to examine the fruit. This old tree could still put out a crop of the sweetest white peaches in all of Mississippi. They hung heavy on the branches, most of them still holding on to a green tint, but the higher up ones that faced the sun looked close to ripe. When a tree puts out superior fruit like this one did, people naturally want to know what variety it is. Way back when, she could answer that question correctly, but she’d long since forgotten, so now she just said, “Annie’s Peach.”
She had planted this tree as a tribute to Annie in 1951 when she had returned home from her travels. White peaches had always reminded her of Annie. In her youth, she had spent many a hot summer afternoon in the boughs of a peach tree, day-dreaming and breathing in their delicate and tantalizing perfume and admiring their bashful blushing skin covered with downy hairs sparkling like tiny slivers of glass in the sunshine. A white peach is a tormentingly beautiful fruit, as perfect as anything you could conjure in a dream. The look and smell of it seduces your eyes and nose, and your mouth must follow. As your teeth sink through the skin and into the juicy flesh, a burst of warm honey nectar floods your tongue and runs down your chin. That’s when you think, this is just about the best thing in God’s creation!
She had seen a lot of peaches in her day. Thousands, maybe millions. In South Carolina, Georgia and California, stacked in crates waiting to be loaded on trucks. Truckloads of peaches. The thing about peaches is that you can’t pick them ripe, not commercially. They’re too fragile. They bruise as soon as your fingers land on them. So the pickers had to take them underripe. Working those orchards, she had always been sorry to have to do that because there’s nothing better than a tree-ripened peach.
Yes, sir, she thought, squinting up through the branches at the topmost fruit, meeting Annie had been the pivotal event in her life. It had permeated the spirit of everything that came after. It had changed her world forever, bringing love and hope and the possibility of happiness. If she had never met Annie, she wondered, what would she have been? Who could say? It had been too important to imagine things any differently.
In a long life, a lot of days pass without leaving a mark, but that warm April day in 1942 was something she still remembered intensely, and she knew she’d never forget a speck of it. She reached her hand to her chin involuntarily, running her index finger over the tiny, smooth scar that could still be seen if a person knew to look for it. Life had been plenty rough that year. She shook her head with wonder, contemplating all those decades since, yet the loveliness of Annie’s peach-like cheeks were as fresh in her mind as the day she had first set eyes on her, an uncommonly pretty girl on a farm in Nebraska, fully ripe at the age of sixteen and wanting something terrible to be picked off her tree.
With one arm hugging her haul of birthday cards against her chest, she reached up as high as she could into the tree, her eye on a piece of fruit with a full blush on it. She’d lost a couple of inches of height over the years, but she was still taller than most women. Pushing herself up on her toes, she managed to get her fingers around that beauty and pull it free of its branch. She held it in the palm of her hand, admiringly, the first ripe peach of summer.
Just like Annie, she thought, ripe and ready to be plucked. There’s not much you can do with a piece of fruit that’s ready to be plucked…except pluck it.
So that’s what I did, she thought with a sly, private smile, and bit into the peach.