Dr. Lenny Faulkner, a single, African American doctor is living a charmed life in Atlanta; compared to the poor childhood she experienced growing up in Madoosa County, a small southeast section of Georgia that reeks of the local box manufacturing plant. Lenny is dedicated to the care and treatment of her female patients. Lenny has been successful in achieving all her goals except one: She yearns to marry her live-in love Ralph and start a family.
In fact, the alarm on Lenny's biological clock is ringing loud and clear---she's turning thirty-five, but Ralph, doesn't hear it. Instead of proposing, he abruptly ends their nine-year relationship, empties their joint bank account and runs off with another woman. Adding to Lenny's misery, she learns that her mother is dying of cancer, with only a few months to live.
Feeling utterly defeated, she discovers her fifth grade diary, which contains a list of rules she had created to live by. Reading them after so many years, Lenny realizes that she has somehow buried the intensity she demonstrated in her youth that helped her get out of Madoosa County.
The diary becomes the impetus Lenny needs to start taking complete charge of her life again. She discovers that Ralph leaving isn't such a loss and that her newfound strength has opened the door to new possibilities, including love.
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About the Author
Suzette Francis is a graduate of Howard University who, after a successful career in business, decided to focus exclusively on being a writer. She lives with her husband and children in the mountains of Tennessee, where she has written and directed plays, and has volunteered to tutor public school children in creative writing. Rules for a Pretty Woman is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
Rules for a Pretty Woman
Shaniqua Davis: 13-year-old black female, first-time patient. Weight: 189 lbs. Height: 5'6". Gravida/para—[No history of pregnancies]. Last normal menstrual period, mid-December. Birth control: none. Complaints: nausea, vomiting, tiredness, irritability. History of present illness: Mother suspects she's contracted a virus spreading through her school. School nurse recommended a gynecological visit.
"How long have you had these symptoms, Shaniqua?"
"About two weeks," Shaniqua's mother pipes up. Ms. Davis is an attractive, well-dressed woman with short, nicely cropped hair, a smooth, medium-brown complexion, and a small build compared to her overweight daughter.
"Ever felt like this before, Shaniqua?" I ask.
"First she's ever been sick in her life," Ms. Davis blurts out.
Shaniqua looks down at her twiddling fingers.
"Are you sexually active?"
"No, she isn't," Ms. Davis says, narrowing her eyes at me, arms crossed as she sits straighter in her seat as if bracing for battle.
"I'm asking your daughter," I say patiently. "I'd like to hear from her, since she's my patient." I lower my voice. "May I have a word alone with Shaniqua, please?"
"I know what goes on with my daughter, Dr. Faulkner." Ms. Davis sneers. "She's not one of those hot 'n' fast little girls running up and down the road after boys."
"Are you sexually active, Shaniqua?"
"No, ma'am," Shaniqua whispers, giving me a shifty, bug-eyed look.
Ireview the initial lab test in Shaniqua's chart.
Blood pressure: 100/60. Urinalysis: normal. Pregnancy test: positive.
"Um-hmmmm," I hum, focusing on the word positive. "Shaniqua, I know why you've been spitting up lately."
"It's the flu," Ms. Davis says emphatically.
"No," I say, "but I'd like to have a word with her alone for a moment, Ms. Davis, if you don't mind."
"I do mind, Doctor. Shaniqua's my only child, and anything that concerns her, I demand to know first-hand."
"She's pregnant," I say softly, stroking Shaniqua's hair, which grows wild and restless about her broad, dark face like tumbleweed, with a spray of half-straight strands sticking up. She is the picture of me at her age: overweight and irrefutably unattractive. Ms. Davis breathes heavily, like a bull about to charge.
"I drop her off at school every morning," she says, astounded. "And I'm home from work a half hour after she gets home in the evening. We spend every weekend together. Every weekend! She can't be having no baby."
"I didn't do it, Mama," Shaniqua cries.
"Maybe the test is wrong," Ms. Davis says desperately.
"I'm afraid not," I say, glancing down at positive on the lab results.
"But I wasn't sexually active, Mama," Shaniqua pleads.
Ms. Davis glances up at me, then down at Shaniqua on the exam table, as if trying to decide whom to believe.
"How'd it happen, then?" she growls.
"I don't know, Mama."
"How can you not know a thing like that?"
"I didn't do it."
"You had to do something, Shaniqua."
"I didn't move."
"We kissed one time, Mama, and that was it, I swear."
"What're you talking about, girl? Kissing. Nobody gets knocked up from a kiss. What d'ya think I am? As stupid as you?"
"Ms. Davis, please watch what you say," I insist. "What happened, Shaniqua? Were you forced?"
"No, I just laid on the bottom is all. He did all the moving."
"On the bottom of who?" Ms. Davis snaps. "Who is he?"
"I said who, Shaniqua." Ms. Davis is pacing the floor like a light-footed sandpiper, stopping now and then, her toe tapping to a beat only she can decipher. "Thirty minutes. I leave you to yourself thirty minutes a day, and you get up under some boy first chance you get. Who is he?"
"That's not important right now, Ms. Davis," I say calmly. "Our concern should be for Shaniqua's well-being. Sometimes unfortunate things happen to the best of us. We all make mistakes."
"Well, you're not having it," Ms. Davis bristles, pointing a convicting finger at her daughter. Shaniqua stares up at the ceiling. She removes her feet from the stirrups and curls into the fetal position.
"Abortion is a viable option at this point," I say. "If that's what Shaniqua wants."
"She's not bringing another mouth in my house to feed."
"I don't want no abortion, Mama."
"Well, you should've thought of that before you laid on the bottom."
"I don't want no abortion, Doctor," Shaniqua cries. "It's a sin to kill a baby."
"You're worried about sin after fornicating with a boy," Ms. Davis huffs, shaking her head disgustedly. "You're not having nobody's baby."
"Ms. Davis, you can't force her. Besides, there are other options the two of you might consider together. Adoption, being one."
"So everybody in town knows she's swollen with a baby. Thirteen years old and knocked up. Sheila Davis's little girl's hot 'n' fast after some boy." Ms. Davis plops into a chair as if the wind has just been knocked out of her, defeat loosening the tautness in her face. I empathize with her, knowing that even as large as Atlanta is, a two million-plus population, there are still pockets of small-town neighborhoods and bible-toting Southern Baptists.
"No good. Dirty. Used. What's our pastor gonna say, Shaniqua? How're we ever gonna hold our heads up in church again?"
"Ms. Davis, you've done a fine job raising your daughter alone. Shaniqua's still a good girl, probably smart in school. I'll bet she's never given you any trouble before, right?"
"Until now," Ms. Davis says, bitterly.
"Please try to remember what it's like to be her age," I say. "Being thirteen is even harder now than when you and I were kids, Ms. Davis. Teens today are bombarded with sexual images in videos . . . movies . . ."
"That's why I've brought her up in the church," Ms. Davis interrupts. "For all the good it's done me."
"Shaniqua made a mistake, Ms. Davis. But now she needs your love and compassion."
"I know exactly what my daughter needs, Doctor."Rules for a Pretty Woman. Copyright © by Suzette Francis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book came to me when I needed it. I recommend this book to women who have loved and lost. Very inspirational and uplifting.
This book was so good! Lentia went thru so much with her ex and how he did her so dirty. Not to mention that her mother is dying. But it goes to show you that thru perserverence, much can be done.
Lenita, a medical doctor, learns to love herself the hard way. Through several failed love affairs and one that lasted for several years, she finally realizes that she must take control of her life and future. This book is for any woman looking for 'Mr. Right,' recently divorced, or has some doubts about the current relationship she is in. Super book and well-written. It is for any woman regardless of age, religion, race, or economic status. In fact, this book embraces diversity!
Issues. This woman has issues. I kept thinking to myself how can a doctor, an Obstetrician/ Gynecologist have so many hindrances in her life, but it goes to show that how things appear on the outside aren¿t always the case. Meet Dr. Lenita Mae Faulkner, Lenny. She grew up in rural Madoosa County, no stranger to struggle, hard work and determination. She was one of four children, the only one to do her mama proud. She pulled herself out of her surroundings and went to college, medical school and made a success out of her self. She purposed at a young age that she must make her own rules and follow them. Rules for a Pretty Woman chronicled Lenny¿s life as she made her way to Atlanta. We find that she is involved in a nine-year relationship with Ralph. As this relationship deteriorates quite suddenly the reader finds that Lenny is again sitting at her journal making a new set of rules for her life, this time concerning matters of the heart. Her family is very needy of her money, her career isn¿t as fulfilling as she had hoped, her relationships after Ralph aren¿t progressing and her mother, who doesn¿t show her affection well, comes to spend her last days with her. Her best friend and her even stand on shaky ground. From all appearances this ¿have it all together, doctor¿ has it going on, but she¿s miserable inside. She has issues. A compelling read in that I desperately wanted Lenny to find herself. Not your typical story where the reader is sure that the main character will find happiness and have a storybook ending. You have to read to find out. It pulled at my heartstrings, I wanted to remind her of her own rules when she started to go astray and even help her write some rules that would help her in new situations. A quick witty read for first time novelist, Suzette Francis, it¿s a girly girl book, one that I¿m sure we can all relate to in some way
This is one of the best books I have read this year. This is a story about a woman who goes through various relationships, only to find that it is harder than she thinks to find true love. Suzette really makes the people come alive. I really wanted to get in the story and let some people have it :). I would definately recommend this book.