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Jeannie Ralston

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The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming
by Jeannie Ralston   

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Publisher:  Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group Type: 


Copyright:  May 27, 2008 ISBN-13:  9780767927956

Author's Website

After a stimulating former life as a magazine writer in Manhattan and Austin, Jeannie Ralston reluctantly moves to rural Texas as part of a bargain with her husband. Eventually, she takes over the lavender farm he has started and builds it into a successful business--in the process transforming herself, her community and the agricultural industry of her area.

As I did frequently, I couldn’t help but question how I’d gotten to this strange spot in my life, so far from what I’d expected for myself. Yes, there had been a heady romance a few years back. Then a slew of subsequent decisions, fueled by love and yearnings I didn’t even know I had. But I never, ever would have suspected that this was where the sum total of them would bring me. That afternoon a new doubt dripped into my mind. When do you know, I wondered, whether the choices you’ve made were the right ones?

Professional Reviews

Her life sounds like the pilot for the old Green Acres TV show. When her husband, Robb, a globe-hopping photographer for National Geographic, declares his desire to abandon life in the big city, Ralston, a high-powered New York journalist, finds herself forsaking her Manolo Blahniks for Birkenstocks and her Central Park jogging track for a dirt lane in the bagel-free, latte-less Texas hill country. As if converting an abandoned barn into a residence worthy of Architectural Digest while raising two boisterous sons weren't enough, Ralston is nearly stretched to the breaking point when Robb returns from a Provencal vacation convinced that their farm boasts an ideal environment for growing lavender. Between infestations of lethal scorpions and instrusions of wayward livestock, Robb's absence at watershed moments forces Ralston to muster an inner strength and sense of adventure she never knew she possessed. Brimming with piquant observations on everything from marriage to motherhood, careers to cappuccino, Ralston's exuberant memoir showcases the resiliency of the human spirit.

Publisher's Weekly
Arriving in Manhattan for a McCall's magazine summer internship when she was 21, Ralston was smitten with big-city life. Soon she had the career of her dreams, a Chelsea apartment, even a film student fiancé. Then, on a feature assignment for Life, she met Robb, a photographer for National Geographic, and her life was up-ended. Before long, Ralston was leaving her boyfriend and New York City, to move with Robb to his home state of Texas. They settled first in Austin, but Robb wanted a less urban lifestyle, so they bought land with a creek and an old stone barn in the Texas Hill Country. Robb's busy schedule of international photo shoots left Ralston in charge of house renovations, hardly her forte. Then Robb had his next idea-they'd raise lavender on their limestone-rich land, which was similar to the soil of Provence. Ralston agreed, provided they start having children. Together, they began a successful niche-industry, growing and processing lavender into a variety of marketable products. In this satisfying and enjoyable story, the reluctant Ralston eventually falls in love with their fields of lavender.

Ladies Home Journal
When journalist Jeannie Ralston (a former contributing editor to Ladies' Home Journal) agreed to give up the fast-paced New York City lifestyle she loved, for a slower, though still urban, life in Austin with her Texan fiance, globe-trotting photographer Robb Kendrick, she told herself it was "the kind of trade-off people made for love." But when, just three years later, Robb proposed they leave Austin and settle down in the Texas Hill Country, some 40 miles west, 33-year-old Jeannie decided that this trade-off would have to be on her terms: She'd move to rural Blanco, Texas, if Robb would agree that it was time to have children. The adjustment to life -- and motherhood (she soon gives birth to two sons) -- on a beautiful, but remote, 200-acre ranch, has its challenges, so when Ralston's ever-persuasive husband gets it into his head to start a lavender farm in Texas like the ones he has just photographed in Provence, she is decidedly unenthusiastic: "I've already moved twice for him," she thinks. "I've got a 3-month-old, for God's sake. What more does he expect from me?" Not more than she can handle, apparently. The resourceful Ralston builds Hill Country Lavender into an astonishingly successful business, designing a line of lavender products and giving seminars on lavender farming while raising their two young boys. And as she makes the inspiring journey from urban sophisticate to family farmer chronicled in this vivid and compulsively readable memoir, Ralston discovers talents and joys she never dreamed of.

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