Rotten Peaches


a novel by Lisa de Nikolits

352 Pages
September 24, 2018

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Rotten Peaches is a gripping epic filled with disturbing and unforgettable insights into the human condition. Love, lust, race and greed. How far will you go? Two women. Two men. One happy ending. It takes place in Canada, the U.S. and South Africa. Nature or nurture. South Africa, racism and old prejudices — these are hardly old topics but what happens when biological half-siblings meet with insidious intentions? Can their moral corruption be blamed on genetics — were they born rotten to begin with? And what happens when they meet up with more of their ilk? What further havoc can be wreaked, with devastating familial consequences?

“Wow. Just wow. Lisa de Nikolits’ Rotten Peaches blew me away. A dark, compulsive, and addictive story in which the characters’ secrets and needs conflict with each other and fold back in on themselves in an ever-tightening noose, Rotten Peaches will keep readers gripped until the very last page. Highly recommended!”

—Karen Dionne, internationally bestselling author of The Marsh King’s Daughter

“A noir page-turner that digs into the darkest corners of the human heart, Rotten Peaches  dissects the lives of Leone and Berenice, women who live continents apart but are linked by the attentions of a charismatic con man, JayRay. Leonie, a kleptomaniac chemist for an up and coming cosmetics company in Toronto, juggles her trade show junkets with a taste for petty theft and an abusive affair with JayRay. Meanwhile, in South Africa, JayRay’s half-sister Bernice, author of a best-selling series of self-help baking books based on recipes she’s appropriated from her black housekeeper, is in love with a man committed to returning South Africa to white control. Slowly the two stories begin to merge: as one woman struggles for redemption and self-knowledge, the other slips into a whirlpool of deception and violence. Lisa de Nikolits succeeds in creating a disturbing, mesmerizing tale in which the boundaries of good and evil, justice and punishment, are blurred by family secrets, racism, and sexual obsession.”

—Terri Favro, author of Once Upon a Time in West Toronto

“‘I am not a killer. I just fell in love with the wrong man’ In Rotten Peaches, two women grapple with Sisyphean circumstances, paralleled in the seeming inescapable strength of the demons they ​harbour​. Lisa de Nikolits is a skilled craftswoman, gripping the reader from the first page, and suspend​s​ her there, ​brow furrowed​, as each new disaster unfolds, highlighted always by our two heroes’ inability to turn away from the men they love and the dangerous plots they’ve been seduced into. With cons, ​political unrest, ​poison, sex, and murder plots, ​Rotten Peaches​ ​is​ an unflinchingly cinematic read.”

—Robin Richardson, author of Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis.

“Welcome to the world of sales cons, messed-up self-help authors, hotel room hookups and murder most vile. Rotten Peaches  delivers hilarious thrills and villainous chills right to its final twist. A wild, sexy romp of a book!”

—Carol Bruneau, author of A Bird on Every Tree

“An avant garde page-turner, written with honesty and insight that both caresses and shocks. Set around the corner and across the world, Rotten Peaches  is an intimate study of human nature in all its imperfect glory. Lisa de Nikolits expertly weaves the lives of four unique characters into a story that rolls out as curiously as life itself. This novel romps with humor and stark private moments in a rhythm that builds with suspense to the climax, a sequence of chilling scenes at a South African farm. Here, de Nikolits uses her art to its highest good to show the reader a vivid and unforgettable snapshot of the country post-apartheid. In supermarkets, fruit is displayed with the shiny side outward, bruises and flaws hidden behind. While there’s no pretending in Rotten Peaches , all flaws are front and centre, there is braveness and truth at its pit.”

—Jennifer Soosar, author of Parent Teacher Association

“An intense tale of looking for love in all the “wronged” places … a bitter brew, often unnerving … relentless … hugely intriguing … a telling of mighty meltdowns at a reckless helter-skelter pace. Bernice and Leonie relate with keen insightfulness and gripping candour, their individual see-sawing and perilously-brewed stories, born of cumulative despair-festering inner wounds … there is this to and fro, pushed- to- the- limits … wide-open and risky vulnerability displayed, alongside a dangerous emotional distancing … a palpable anxiety which pulses throughout. Rotten Peaches is an exploration of damage and shame and prejudice, examining the needs and greeds and horrors thereof. Fears trigger isolation and alienation and humiliation. Jagged despair feeds destruction, condemnation and denial. There is this relentless agitation. Hazardous uncertainty and fear ferments this toxic tale. The explosive sensuality, the fleeting, shifting pleasures of Rotten Peaches are braided together with anguish and doubt and anger. Rotten Peaches is a vivid and gut-wrenching story so forceful that it feels as if it always existed!”

—Shirley McDaniel, Artist

“Rotten Peaches is a magnificently written novel that comprehensively combines almost every genre out there! Lisa de Nikolits dramatically explores our time as we try to understand incomprehensible human nature. A gripping, couldn’t-put-down tale of impulsive, irrational, and extreme interactions that are raw, shocking, historical, political and horrific while still being relatable. Rotten Peaches is a thrilling escape and a thought-provoking novel.”

—Marilyn Riesz, MA,RP Registered Psychotherapist and Co-Author of Bake Your Way to Happiness

“In Rotten Peaches, Lisa de Nikolits has written a novel that combines the irreverent energy of pulp with the cool amorality of film noir. With multiple plot lines that weave a tight chokehold of suspense—and characters who are at least as twisted as their stories—this tale of obsessive love, rage, and revenge is sure to make you shiver.”

—Karen Smythe, author of This Side of Sad

“In Rotten Peaches, Lisa de Nikolits has masterfully written two protagonists that are both thoroughly unsympathetic and utterly compelling. It’s impossible to look away as these two women do very bad things in the pursuit of love, happiness and meaning. And I do mean “very bad”—which makes this book a wild, weird ride, but one that’s very worth taking.”

—Stacy Lee Kong, Contributing Editor, Flare magazine

Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain. No Fury Like That, her most recently published work, is her seventh novel. It will be published in Italian, under the title Una furia dell’altro mondo, in 2019. Previous works include: The Hungry Mirror (winner 2011 IPPY Gold Medal); West of Wawa (winner 2012 IPPY Silver Medal); A Glittering Chaos (winner 2016 Bronze IPPY Medal ; The Witchdoctor’s Bones; Between The Cracks She Fell (winner 2016 for Contemporary Fiction); and The Nearly Girl. Lisa lives and writes in Toronto. Her ninth novel, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution is forthcoming in 2019.

8 reviews for Rotten Peaches

  1. inannaadmin

    Love-ly books to stoke your Valentine’s heart
    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits
    Toronto Star – February 7, 2019

    Flowers and chocolates might be on the shopping list this week, along with these new novels of love, both lost and found.

    “I am not a killer. I just fell in love with the wrong man.” That’s Leonie, a brilliant beauty-products chemist, petty thief and married mom who falls hard for the charismatic JayRay, who has a doomed plan to get rich quick. They’re the peaches rotting in the summer sun (an Elton John reference). The other woman in this crazy romp is Bernice, half-sibling to JayRay and a successful South African self-help author with her own desperate romantic entanglement. This is the Toronto writer’s eighth novel.

  2. inannaadmin

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits
    reviewed by The Literary Apothecary – February 23, 2019
    Partners in Crime Blog Tour


    For some this content may be dark. But, from where I come from, this is real stuff. Women are real, flawed, co-dependent, and brutally honest. Things happen that were never thought possible and, more importantly, were never desired. Falling prey to lust greed, addiction is possible for anyone. Rotten Peaches, though dark, gritty, and raw, is definitely a book I recommend to readers who are seeking fiction to stimulate discussion.

  3. inannaadmin

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits
    reviewed by Wall-to-Wall Books – February 21, 2019
    Partners in Crime Blog Tour

    Well I have to admit I wasn’t too sure about this one at first. Being a huge fan of Lisa’s and loving literally everything she writes – I thought I was going to be disappointed – I am glad I was wrong!

    This is not your usual – “fall in love with because you love all the characters and can identify with them” – there is nothing fluffy about this book!
    This is your – “fall in love with because you HATE all the characters and are glad that you are not like them!”
    You may ask “Why would I want a book like that?” Oh come-on! Don’t we all love to hate those characters?? It’s fun to read about them, fun to hate them, and we are so glad that they are nothing like our own life (or maybe they are, lol). I do love me a great “bad guy” and this book is full of them! I think it is just as hard to create a consistently bad character as it is good one, maybe even harder actually!

    Where some stories are all about the beautiful scenery, others are about the mystery – this one is very character driven. Who they are, what they are, their past, and their intertwining lives. I read in a couple reviews the word “disturbed” LOL that is actually a very good description for them.

    This is a spider webby tale that you won’t understand the connection until much later. Even though it is filled with horrible things you just can’t stop reading! It is addictive that’s for sure.
    Expertly written… as usual!
    This is not my absolute favorite by Lisa – but still a winner!!!

    Just one thing I don’t understand – Lisa… How do you sleep at night?? Haha!

  4. inannaadmin

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits
    reviewed by Tome Tender – February 18, 2019
    Partners in Crime Blog Tour

    A pretty face can hide an ugly and twisted mind and Lisa de Nikolits’ ROTTEN PEACHES tells the tale of just how far a person will go to achieve their personal goals, good or bad. It is also the story of greed, ambition, selfishness and pure evil, the dark side of humanity.

    Ambition, betrayal, lust and love will bring two couples together, blood will entangle their lives and lead them down a path of destruction and devastation and no one in their path will be unscathed. Gritty, dark, and populated by four main characters who harbor their own dirty little secrets as the chemist falls for the bad boy conman who is after a piece of his half-sister’s money pie who has fallen for a playboy activist whose racial views are at odds with the color of her skin.

    Sometimes shocking, never dull and filled with enough grit to scour one’s sensibilities, there is a magnetic pull that powers readers forward, even as these characters become ever more repulsive.

    Lisa de Nikolits has created a gripping tale that promises to expose just how low humanity can fall, all for personal gain. Brilliant writing brings these characters and their story to life from start to a finish I truly never saw coming, so if something a little different, a little dark and a little unsettling sounds like it fits the bill, trust me, ROTTEN PEACHES has it covered.

  5. inannaadmin

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits
    reviewed by Ruthie Jones – February 16, 2019
    Partners in Crime Blog Tour

    “I go home and eat mac and cheese and pretend that everything is fine.”

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits is rotten to the core, but in a completely fantastic way. The characters are crass, broken, disgustingly selfish, and wholeheartedly messed up. How great is that?

    The story follows the two main characters, Leonie and Bernice, with their bad decisions and constant struggle to maintain their flimsy grasp on their so-called realities. They are as different as night and day, and yet they are similar in that they are both neurotic messes and hard-core survivors. The lives of these two women are light years apart, but they share a connection: a sexy con-man named JayRay, Leonie’s lover and Bernice’s alleged half brother.

    At first, the story is a bit confusing, going back and forth between the two women, but once the cast of characters is established, the story becomes engrossing and as mesmerizing and horrifying as a train derailment.

    All grammatical mishaps aside, Rotten Peaches is a frightening glimpse into the underbelly of human selfishness and its ugly consequences. The plot is full of both surprises and predictable ramifications, and the way the author lays everything out makes predicting the ending nigh impossible. But you won’t find any spoilers here because these foolish characters and this twisted plot must be experienced first hand.

    Be warned, the story is full of foul language and sexually explicit references and scenes that are not necessarily drawn out and in full detail but more like quick and dirty moments. If you are easily offended, Rotten Peaches is probably not for you. If you don’t mind a few (thousand) F-bombs and such, well then you’re in for a treat. This story will make you shake your head in disbelief at how utterly screwed up these people are and then laugh at how both women crudely land on their feet and have the last word.

    Don’t be surprised if you find yourself despising the main characters because they are all basically despicable, self-centered blights on humanity who are ready to blame everyone but themselves, yet you have to find out what they will do next. You have to find out how far they will go to hide their sins even as they continue to commit them. You have to find out if they have even a shred of decency and remorse lurking under the surface.

    Reading about people who continually self-destruct and then rise from the ashes is exhausting, but the ending is well worth it.

  6. inannaadmin

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits
    reviewed by Lynda Dickson, Books Direct – February 8, 2019
    Partners in Crime Blog Tour

    The title (derived from the Elton John song of the same name) refers to outside beauty hiding the ugliness within. It’s an apt description for all four of the main characters: two ambitious women and the (wrong) men they fall for. Leonie, a chemist whose beauty cream promises more than it delivers, is having an affair with JayRay, a charismatic conman in pursuit of easy riches. He has his sights set on his half-sister Bernice, a self-help writer who is having an affair with political activist Dirk. They’re all hiding secrets and anti-social tendencies, and you never know what they’ll do next. The book is full of unexpected actions and revelations and, even though they are all despicable characters, you’ll find that you just can’t look away from this train wreck. It makes you wonder how much of an impact parents have in determining their children’s behavior as adults.

    Check out the real-life version of Bernice’s book, Bake Your Way to Happiness, written by Lisa de Nikolits in association with psychotherapist Marilyn Riesz and food editor Gilean Watts. Below, you can find the recipe for Melk Tert as featured in Rotten Peaches.

    Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, sex scenes, excessive alcohol consumption, infidelity, violence.

    Some of My Favorite Lines

    Leonie: “I owe a debt of gratitude to my pretty. It has perpetuated the outward lie that disguises the reality inside.”

    JayRay: “I’m a rotten peach,” he says mournfully. “I never had a good heart. I’m rotten to the core. Even my father said so. He said, ‘boy, you may be the apple of your mother’s eye but you’re a rotten peach, just like me.’ He used to sing this song by Elton John, about peaches rotting in the summer sun. ‘That’s you and me, boy,’ he’d say. ‘Rotten peaches, rotting in the summer sun.’”

    Bernice: “… here I sit, drinking to drown my sorrows, not that this is anything new. Sometimes I find my life ironic. I am, after all, a world expert on happiness and the state of the human psyche. It’s a good thing no one knows the truth.”

    Leonie: “I can’t help but think that if my family had any idea how rotten to the core I am, they’d boot me out, brush the dust off their hands, and get on with their lives.”

  7. inannaadmin

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits
    reviewed by The World As I See It- February 4, 2019
    Partners in Crime Blog Tour

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits was a book full of characters that I couldn’t stand. That made this book a hard for me to read because throughout the entire book I started hating each of them more and more. I do have to commend the author because she created a group of characters that are all assholes and someone I would avoid in real life. I was amazed at how well the author was able to make me hate characters right from the start. I don’t know that I have ever read a book where I felt as strongly about the characters as this book did. I do think that this book was written well, and I was glad that I didn’t put it down without finishing it but it isn’t one that I will ever read again.

  8. Renée Knapp

    Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits
    reviewed by Beach Metro – April 15, 2019


    Both Leonie and Bernice are forced to come to grips with their stupidity, and seem to seek ways out, but the situations both find themselves in will force a reckoning. The reader eagerly anticipates the inevitable clash of personalities when all four come together to battle it out.

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