Twin Oaks

Twin Oaks by [Palmer, Melissa]THE BOOK: Twin Oaks 

: 2014

 Melissa Palmer 

: Open Books 

SUMMARY: Twin Oaks is a self-contained community where it seems that skies are always blue, the grass is always green, flowers bloom prolifically, the houses exude charm and grace and the people are decent and always cordial. Yet appearances can be deceiving, for beneath exteriors lay the darker elements of personality: madness, envy, infidelity and spiritual vacuity.

Jackson Pollack is a frustrated artist living in the shadow of his own name. Cribbed and confined in Twin Oaks, he wonders how he became a house husband raising three children with a wife who won’t share his bed.

Melissa PalmerJackson’s wife April, mother to Alton, Molly, and Piggy, is determined to make everything around her perfect and to expand Twin Oaks, even if doing so destroys her marriage.

Wilma Womack carries on conversations with her genius dog Gustav and is married to a man she met on the Internet who is not at all what he seems.

Mrs. Ringhaus, an abandoned wife and mother of two, runs each morning through the loop of her memories as she tries desperately to reclaim her self-esteem.

And Mrs. MacMillan, the matriarch of the community, descends into madness when her prize rose garden suddenly will not bloom.

Melissa Palmer’s deft prose casts a shadow over suburban society and exposes the darker aspects of personality that hide behind the superficial light of façade.

: This is the closest I’ve ever come to a revenge submission. My memoir A LIFE LESS NORMAL was out with the bigs (big real-deal agent, publishers, the whole nine) and in that experience TWIN OAKS was born. There’s nothing more humbling then hearing people in the business of books telling you your narrator isn’t likable or sexy enough, when the story at hand is your life. At that time Steampunk was the trend du jour, that and the whole 50 Shades, ummm stuff that was getting such accolades. And THAT’S what publishers wanted to see, at least the ones with the big dollar signs. So day after day they’d come to me with notes on things that needed to be fixed in my memoir, and I was reading up on all those good things like author platform and marketability and I was like you know what book industry? F you. Sorry to curse, but at a certain point as an artist you break. As beret and scarf wearing as that may sound, it’s the God’s honest truth. I didn’t get into this life to hob knob or be marketable. If I liked selling things or being snazzy I’d be doing that. I wouldn’t be sitting in a hoody in my dining room typing with a jug of coffee in my hands. So in those dark hours of commercial rejection TWIN OAKS was born. I looked at what was “out there” in the publishing world, all the tie me to a chair sparkling steam punked out talking cats solving mysteries in cozy chairs and said screw this, I’m just writing the book I want to read (a story I’d like.) I wrote it because I needed to. 

WHY THIS TITLE?: I loved the idea of two giant trees guarding the gates of the cul-de-sac that makes up Twin Oaks. They’re the silent sentries who see everything and say nothing. As silly as it sounds, they are the EVERYMAN in the story, the witnesses to the nonsense that occurs in the “normal” world. 

It is in essence every neighborhood. Every person can look down their street at all the “perfect” houses and know that behind the closed doors are all the secrets we all try so hard to hide. There’s also a few underdogs readers will fall in love with and root for, not in the standard go team way but in the way that grabs us at the insides. There will be a connection to a lot of the residents of the neighborhood, whether it’s Wilma Womack and her dog, Piggy, the poor baby saddled with a mother more interested in China patterns then in the gender of her child, or the guy who’s just trying to figure out where his life went wrong. 

Unique and mysterious. ‘Twin Oaks,’ by Melissa Palmer, was an intriguing page-turner and a fast read. It introduces you to the inhabitants of the elite Twin Oaks housing development and their somewhat quirky lifestyle. You meet many couples in rapid succession, see the way they present themselves to strangers, and then learn that nothing is as it seems in any of the families.

“The writing is descriptive and beautiful, and somewhat secretive as tiny bits of hidden secrets dribble out and confuse you about the big mystery they all seem to be in on. Sort of like Stepford Wives but more diabolic.

“There were way too many characters without enough introduction, so it was a challenge to keep them all straight as the story jumped around a lot. It is definitely not boring and there are lots of plot twists and surprises in all of the beautiful homes in their picture-perfect neighborhood.

“If you are looking for something different and entertaining, read ‘Twin Oaks.'” — Massive Reader.
“This book was a type of guilty fun. i love the way this book drops little hints from start to finish about what is really going on in this ideal neighborhood. palmer does a wonderful job of building characters–believable characters with hopes, fears, and secrets. i’d like to see another book though, because twin oaks doesn’t end as much as it just stops, with many unanswered questions and issues.  there is a plot twist about two-thirds through, but the careful reader will have seen this coming, and enjoy the way Palmer develops that theme without losing the gist of her narrative arc. The book is a little steamy, pg-13ish, and will be enjoyed by people who love strong female characters, secrets, intergenerational characters, and relationship stories.”

E: I have a memoir in the world, A LIFE LESS NORMAL, this book, and BAKING FOR DAVE, all of which are grounded in my real life in one way or another. My style writing reflects my style in general. I write honestly and at times intensely because that is who I am. I envy writers who craft together artful sentences that read like verbal filigree. I wish I could do that but I’m more likely to express pain with the word OW than with a beautiful introspective sentence that makes stubbing a toe sound like chamber music when read aloud. 


 AUTHOR COMMENTS: I hope that people start reading and in turn writing more. It’s either the English professor or the old lady in me that sees the way media is going and  finds it (to quote Alice, “curiouser and curiouser.” No one wants to read anymore. Maybe it’s because a lot of the more unique stories and books fall to the wayside for the more predictable easy sells. I’m not sure. But I’m hoping it changes. 


LOCAL OUTLETS: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, 


PRICE: 15.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: @melissapalmerwrites (IG),,

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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