by Margo Bates

Book Cover: P.S. Don't Tell Your Mother
ISBN: 1-4208-9075-1
ISBN: 1-4208-9075-1
ISBN: 1-4208-9075-1
ISBN: 1-4208-9075-1

P.S. Don’t Tell Your Mother is a comical, quirky, and irreverent story that chronicles the life of 12-year-old Maggie Mulvaney and her grandmother Nana Noonan, who is somewhat of a local legend in Canada's Pacific Northwest. Telkwa (Pop. 852) in the late '50s and early '60s is not much different from other small towns across North America. Every town reluctantly owns a Nana. Or wishes they did. There are lots of things that get Nana going. Telkwa's only Jehovah's Witness tops her list. In the hundreds of letters Nana sends Maggie, she shows the human aspects of life. The Jehovah is hell-bent on saving Nana. His high hopes on salvation equal her intent to remain as she is: hell-bent on being herself. After all, she is an Anglican. Nana tells Maggie that it is important to be fair to their fellow humans as long as they don't drive her to do something foolish. Maggie’s letters offer suggestions on how Nana might better deal with the Jehovah. The townsfolk place bets on Nana and the Jehovah and when they will have their next 'set to.' Cash exchanges hands on a regular basis. Only two people visit Nana more often than her family: Constable Reems of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and her ill-fated devotee, who visits every Saturday, rain, shine, sleet, or snow. Nana and the Jehovah reach a stalemate one fall day in 1960. Her Irish temper and accuracy with a gun are what get Nana into trouble. And Telkwa isn't the same without Nana Noonan or that Damn Jehovah.

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Nana Noonan is not like regular grandmothers, though she wears house dresses and aprons, and smells of Noxema. She's half an inch short of six feet so normal ends there. She doesn’t trust anyone who won’t look her in the eye, like the Jehovah. I’m learning that when you try to give good advice, you can’t always depend on it being taken.

I pity that Jehovah. He doesn’t understand that Nana is sweet. In her own way. At least she’s nice to all our family. Dad says it’s Nana’s presence that scares the crap out of the best of men. Grandad won the prize for best man, then. He won’t put up with much crap from Nana. That’s why she spreads it around town instead.

She tells us kids to lead by example and don’t brag about it. She goes out of her way to do something for anyone out of work, sick, or sad. They all say that Nana Noonan did the most for them.


I can’t figure out why she doesn’t like the Jehovah. Maybe it’s because he won't help anybody around town and tries to sell his religion to people - for free - Nana might think he's not setting a good example. Something about him gets her going. Once in a while, I will throw a prayer in at night for the poor Jehovah hoping my two bits worth might help even out the score.

It's not working so far.

Reviews: Gloria Macarenko, CBC Vancouver – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation wrote:

"I love the way Margo Bates captures the essence and eccentricities of life in a small northern town. She highlights the conspiratory relationship between a young girl and her kooky grandmother. As someone who grew up in the north, I can relate to the quirky characters and comical scenarios that are so much a part of small-town life. Everyone needs a bit of Nana in their lives!"

M. Kay Schmitt, Canadian Authors - Metro Vancouver wrote:

"Looking for an entertaining read with lots of humour? Read Margo Bates’ PS Don’t Tell Your Mother! For history buffs, Bates offers a fascinating view of life in Northwestern British Columbia in the 1950s and 60s, with a dash of ingenuity and imagination tossed in. PS Don’t Tell Your Mother offers readers a series of letters between Maggie, an independent-minded adolescent girl, and her saucy, shoot-from-the-hip grandmother Nana Noonan. (Well, she only shot an actual gun once in the story). Nana, who calls a spade a spade and more, manages to propel herself into a perpetual confrontation with her small-town Telkwa neighbours. Not least is “that damn Jehovah,” the only person in town who demonstrates the capacity to stand up to her. Anyone from a small town, or anyone who has imagined they might want to, will get the accurate picture. The petty quarrels, competitions, and surprising human tenderness reveal how life flows with lots of ripples in places like Telkwa, BC. Bates tells the story with laugh-out-loud wit and humor. PS Don’t Tell Your Mother is fun and easy to read, with short chapters suitable for reading on the go, but a straight read-through would be just as good, as long as the reader doesn’t get too hoarse with all the laughing at once."

About the Author

Margo Bates is a speaker, writer, photographer, and a darn good cook. Since 1980, she has worked on high-profile projects and events in Canada, the United States, Europe, and London, England. Twenty-five of those years were with her Vancouver-based company, Margo Bates Publicity. She is a professional member of Canadian Authors, was president of the Vancouver branch, and served nationally as vice-chair. Margo is an alumna of Erma Bombeck Humor Writers Workshop, University of Dayton, Ohio. P.S. Don’t Tell Your Mother is her debut book. Her cookbook, Good Cookin’ at Marge’s Diner, is in the works.