Gourd Girls is Priscilla Wilson’s richly told memoir of her 30-year business and personal partnership with Janice Lymburner. It is the story of two girls barely out of college who, through good karma and the kindness of others, wind up creating a life that allows them to live simply, artisticall and on their own terms. Short on money but full of love for each other and their desire to live and work together, Priscilla sets out to revive an old art, gourd carving,while Janice continues to teach and bring in a small but steady income. Priscilla’s account of the trials and errors involved in gourd farming and collecting is at once hilarious and poignant. As the women battle bad soil, unfamiliar machinery and a lack of knowledge about farming in general, the Mount Yonah community comes forward to help “the girls” hang on and make their business a success. With pageantry and good humor, Priscilla and Janice host harvesting parties, invent wacky gourd displays and share their home and hearts with neighbors and folks just passing through. But life wasn’t always fun and games for the pair, who struggled for years with fear of coming out of the closet, at a time when many people in larger and more liberal areas of the country would not. Not knowing what would happen, but with trust in their community and a willingness to accept the consequences, the couple’s desire to live authentically finally helps them stop hiding. Gourd Girls is an inspiring memoir, frankly told and generously packed with anecdotes about life in rural northeast Georgia. It will be a welcome addition to public library collections in Georgia.
Teresa Pacheco, Georgia Library Quarterly
Gourd Girls by Priscilla Wilson is the story of Janice Lymburner and Priscilla Wilson, two young women whose decision to begin a business soon came to be their most favored pastime. Readers will follow the two girls as they are discovering themselves and their knack for the unexpected, giving Gourd Girls a great and powerful intimacy as the community, their families, and their friends join the girls to create an inspiring unity amidst such an unlikely business as the growing and selling of gourds. A remarkable tale in its vividly written in familiar story telling narrative style, Gourd Girls is very strongly recommended reading for anyone who aspires to have a business of their own one day.
Whether this book catches your eye because it’s about the struggles and romance of making a living as a craft artist in a rural area, or because it’s about two women who love each other, you’ll find it well worth reading. My strongest impression is of the integrity and spiritual strength of the author and her partner. Sometimes it’s a bit sad, reading the book, to see them deliberately turn away from a choice that would probably prove lucrative. (This happens at several points in the story.) Instead, they always choose what keeps their spirit most alive. This–and their deep love for nature and each other–is a great gift from the book. So do I recommend it? Yes, of course!
Catherine J. Morgan
Gourd Girls came in the mail from a friend who told me that because it was self-published it is hard to find in mainstream bookstores. It is a lovely book in every way, and I’m delighted to see it is now available on Amazon. The writing style is straightforward and engaging. There’s a nice mix of narrative about becoming entrepreneurs, creative and spiritual growth, and dealing with the uncomfortable-ness of an alternative lifestyle in a rural mountain area. There’s also a good bit of hilarity and an infectious appreciation of what “foolishness” can do to lighten our burdens. I think you will like this book as much as I did.
You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; but mostly you’ll LOVE the gourd girls! You’ll delight to discover the playful spirit author Priscilla Wilson and her partner, Janice Lymburner, bring to everything they do, even as they struggle with financial, social and political issues. Engrossing, well-written, and straight from the heart, this is a fine memoir.
The parallel stories of her struggle to live life to the fullest, both in her life and her life’s work, are portrayed with honesty, humor, and sadness. You travel these twin journeys with her and her life partner Janice Lymburner and find yourself laughing with them as they learn the ropes of hoeing and gourd gathering and running a business as such delightful greenhorns, who are open to the lessons and generousity of their neighbors, friends, and some wacky strangers who all seem to become lifelong partners in the gourd life, as they call it. She also shares the sheer joy of life with her true love and the pain and fear of years in the closet.
“I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It inspires and instructs and makes human the whole public debate on gay marriage and rights. It is a beautiful book.”