The Bag Lady Papers by Alexandra Penney
The Priceless Experience of Losing It All

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In December 2008, my worst nightmare came true . . .

How do you pick yourself up after the one thing you most feared happens to you? Alexandra Penney's revealing, spirited, and ultimately redemptive true story shows us how.

Throughout her life, Alexandra Penney's worst fear was of becoming a bag lady. Even as she worked several jobs while raising a son as a single mother, wrote a bestselling advice book, and became editor in chief of Self magazine, she was haunted by the image of herself alone, bankrupt, and living on the street. She even went to therapy in an attempt to alleviate the worry that all she had worked for could crumble.

And then, one day, that's exactly what happened.

Penney had taken a friend's advice and invested nearly everything she had ever earned--all of her savings--with Bernie Madoff. One day she was successful and wealthy; the next she had almost nothing. Suddenly, at an age when many Americans retire, Penney saw her worst nightmares coming true. Based on her popular blog posts on The Daily Beast, this memoir chronicles Penney's struggle to cope with the devastating financial and emotional fallout of being cheated out of her life savings and illuminates her journey back to sanity, solvency, and security.

"I will work harder than I ever have before--which was pretty hard indeed--and see what happens. I have the feeling something good will come of it: tough, challenging work and laserlike focus have always paid off for me. . . . Was it better to have it and then lose it? Yes, yes, yes! Even though I lived with horrible bag lady fears of losing it all, now that those financial fears have materialized, I'm in pretty good shape and looking to what's next. Experiences--good and bad, exciting and boring, tragic and absurd--make up a life. Not to have lived to the fullest is the saddest, most irresponsible life I can think of."
--- from The Bag Lady Papers

About Alexandra Penney

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Howard Kaminsky was the president and publisher of three major publishing houses: Warner Books, Random House, and William Morrow/Avon. Also the author of several screenplays, four novels (cowritten with his wife, Susan), and numerous magazine articles, he lives in New York City and Connecticut. Alexandra Penney's four bestsellers include the mega-hit "How to Make Love to a Man." In addition to serving as editor in chief of "Self" magazine, she has written lifestyle columns for "The New York Times Magazine" and contributed regularly to numerous others. Currently launching a national magazine for women called "Real," she lives in New York City.
Published January 30, 2010 by Hachette Books. 241 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Self Help, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Bag Lady Papers

Publishers Weekly

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A victim of Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme, mom and former Self magazine editor-in-chief Penney (How to Make Love to a Man), hyperventilates her way through this intriguing memoir of putting it back together.

| Read Full Review of The Bag Lady Papers: The Pric...

The Wall Street Journal

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MacLaine's past lives alone account for many other women, but that's a topic for another day.) 'The Bag Lady Papers' By Alexandra Penney Voice/Hyperion, 220 pages, $23.99 Ms.

Feb 13 2010 | Read Full Review of The Bag Lady Papers: The Pric...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

(In fact Tina Brown called her as soon as she heard the news and asked her to write a blog for The Daily Beast.) Also, as Penney readily admits, the prospect of losing her son or her health would have been a worse "nightmare" than what actually happened to her.

May 17 2010 | Read Full Review of The Bag Lady Papers: The Pric...


“Now that I look back and remember the big chance I took in my twenties,” she writes, “I think surely I can find a way out of the mess I’m in now.” And, with a little help from her friends (and no mean boost from the contract for The Bag Lady Papers), that’s precisely what she does.

Jun 17 2010 | Read Full Review of The Bag Lady Papers: The Pric...

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