Every once in a while someone emails me wondering if there really is a place like Doylestown. See, Doylestown is the setting of my young adult novel WHAT I MEANT… And when you read about this town, you realize how unusual it is outside of a city to have a cute village-like place filled with cool shops and restaurants and museums, oh, and two castles!
But, I assure you, Doylestown is all that. So, since I have a few book signings coming up around town in the next few weeks, I thought that this would be an ideal time to post some images to go with some scenes from my novel.
BTW, you can catch me at the Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA on Sunday, Dec. 6 from noon-3 p.m….at Canterbury Tales Forever in Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, PA on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m….and at Farley’s in New Hope, PA also on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 3-5 p.m. So if you are looking for a signed book for a holiday gift, and if you have a reader who would love to read a novel set in a town they know, well… I’m just saying!
Anyways, here are some images from town, along with some quotes from WHAT I MEANT… (text copyright 2007 Marie Lamba)
Sang Jumnal, the 15-year old heroine of the novel, kind of has a thing for Orlando Bloom:
I zoom past Fonthill. That’s a castle built in Doylestown in 1912 by this rich guy, Henry Mercer. It’s a museum now, but seeing it all set back on its massive lawn, with morning dew sparkling in the grass and a bit of fog lingering in the hollows beside it, I can imagine someone still lives there. And not some rich crusty geezer either. I can imagine Orlando inside, throwing open the top windows and gazing across the grass and seeing, well, me.
In this scene, Sang and her best friend Gina do their weekly walk/ride at the Doylestown Cemetery, only at this point in the story, they aren’t too friendly anymore:
“I bike up to the Elmer mausoleum. No sign of Gina. I rub my icy hands together and wait. The wind shakes the branches of the old maples around the graveyard. Brown brittle leaves scuttle around the grass till they are pressed against the tombstones. A golden banner spelling out MOTHER, loosened from its memorial wreath, tumbles past me. I’m about to give up on this entire bike/run thing when over the hill I catch sight of a pink hat bouncing along.
I try not to smile and it’s a good thing, because she marches right past me. She tucks a strand of her sandy-blond hair back into her hat and starts her stretch beside the mausoleum. So I’m a ghost after all.
Sang also has a thing for a guy in her school – Jason. Things quickly get complicated, especially since she’s not technically allowed to date. Plus, Sang recently saw Jason hanging out with “seedy Sarah.” In the following scenes, a simple walk home from school becomes anything but:
By the time we reach Planet Smoothie, it’s jammed with students. Megan, holding a giant smoothie in her hand, spots us through the window and waves for us to come in. Frankly, I’m tempted.
Sang then remembers that she has a dreaded doctor’s appointment for something she doesn’t even have…and starts rushing home:
I’m by Nat’s Pizzeria just as the door bursts open and out leaps none other than Jason, a slice in his hand. He races down the street, and I half expect a cop to be chasing him.
Great. I have to hurry home in the same direction. He’ll probably think I’m following him. He probably saw me by Nat’s and thought, Gah! It’s that crazy stalker chick, just like in Swimfan.
Jason disappears, and Sang figures the coast is clear and she can get home without running into him for real, but…:
“Can I interest you in a matinee?”
I pause. The metallic voice came from the County Theater. I turn, and there’s Jason inside the tiny glass ticket booth, wiping pizza sauce from his chin with a paper napkin.
I’m totally caught by surprise, and it takes a moment for me to respond. “No thanks,” I finally say. I turn away, ready to move on.
“There’s a great art film opening. Very funny, very different.”
His metallic voice coming through the tiny speaker, the way he’s stuffed in the little glass booth like an arcade gypsy…I imagine depositing a quarter, and his mechanical mouth telling me my fortune. I step closer. “I didn’t know you worked here.”
As you can imagine, nothing goes very smoothly for Sang, and she encounters lots of trials and tribulations throughout the novel. Hey, she’s got an evil aunt living with her, who is stealing food and money, and setting up poor Sang to take the blame! She and Jason have their share of problems, too. Yeah, like I said, things aren’t too easy for her. But every once in a while, something does go right. Like in this scene on what we townies call the “D” bench:
There he is on the cement bench at the corner, sipping his coffee.
I stop, then I hurry to the bench before I have a chance to think or plan or anything. I sit beside him and he looks at me, all confused. I set down my bag by my feet. We look at each other and both take a sip of our drinks. My throat feels scorched. It takes me a moment to talk, but when I do, all I can think to say is, “It’s cold out. You should have stayed in the shop.”
“Didn’t think you’d want to be seen with me.” He tightens his mouth and stares at a passing car.
We both take another sip.
I sigh. “Don’t you wish sometimes you could start all over? Take everything back?”
This brings a half smile to his face that makes my heart flutter. It’s just like in those romance paperbacks Mrs. Baldarasi is always reading.
I don’t know what comes over me. I don’t know why I do what I do next, or what I expect to happen ten minutes or even ten seconds from now. All I know is that I set down my cappuccino, lean toward Jason, and kiss him. My first real kiss ever. It’s long and lingering, and all warm and steamy and coffee-flavored.
So, Doylestown is real. As real as a first kiss… Come tour Fonthill, take in a movie at the vintage County Theater, grab some excellent hot-wings at Nat’s and a smoothie at Planet Smoothie. Also, check out the other great places in WHAT I MEANT… including the Doylestown Bookshop, Coffee & Cream and Poor Richards. And you’ll fall in love with this town!