Sexual awakening can be messy business.

Tillie Bishop never knew her father. So when her mother abandons her, Tillie becomes streetwise. She’s tried to follow the Canadian Girl in Training’s Christian guidelines, but she smokes cigarettes in the church bathroom during the group’s meetings and plays kissing games afterward with neighborhood boys. Barely a teenager, glamour becomes her guiding star, and she fantasizes about dating men and having sex. Even in Calgary, forces of the coming 1960s—a decade of rebellion, discovery, and upheaval—are festering within her. At seventeen, during a stay in Toronto, she becomes a band groupie and throws herself into “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.” Then, seeking more adventure, she moves to San Francisco, drawn to its psychedelic night life, leading to a deeper downward spiral. But Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self. Tillie takes readers on a wild ride. Join her if you dare!

Pen-L Publishing released the print edition of The Ripening on 10/15/21. The ebook became available on 11/14/21. Pen-L is offering the following special: Get all three of my novels (Fling!, Freefall: A Divine Comedy, and The Ripening) for only $39.95. This price includes free shipping in the U.S.! Click here


Tillie Bishop eventually becomes a visual artist and changes her name to Tillie Bloom. Follow the older Tillie in Freefall: A Divine Comedy. She’ll take you into an art world you’ll never forget.

BACK COVER BLURBS: What others are saying about The Ripening: A Divine Comedy:

Lily Iona MacKenzie has created a child who will be a seeker. Tillie is not just any child. Tillie and her mother’s hard-scrabble life is set primarily in Calgary, with a brief time on a prairie farm. MacKenzie knows the landscape, from the Canadian cities to the prairie “flatter than dinner plates.” She takes her reader to down-on-your-luck hotels, the Zoo, and the Calgary Stampede, with the excitement of the rodeo and the sordid underbelly of the midway at night. But Tillie hungers for more adventure and spends time in both Vancouver and Toronto. Before she turns eighteen, she “escapes” to San Francisco. This is the story of a journey, and MacKenzie navigates it expertly. She knows her craft.

– Betty Jane Hegerat, author of Odd One Out, The BoyDelivery, and A Crack in the Wall.

“Tillie’s life wasn’t meant to follow other girls’ paths. With free love, hippies, and drugs looming, she ends up in San Francisco. Lily Iona MacKenzie deftly takes readers into that throbbing world of drugs, booze, and one-night stands. They’ll root for Tillie as she struggles to find herself and be swept along as she learns that true happiness is seldom found amid glitter and grime. It’s hiding somewhere else … in plain sight. A well-written and visceral story.”

– Janice Gilbertson, author of Summer of ’58, Canyon House, and The Dark Side of Gibson Road


Reviews of The Ripening:

The Ripening charts the evolution of the main character, Tillie, from a young girl through to adulthood. This is an episodic novel, with the (non-linear) chapters each painting a vivid portrait of a particular time or key event in Tillie’s life. I was a little unsure how I’d get on with what is quite an unusual structure, but actually it works brilliantly – from immediately giving the reader the young Tillie and mature Tillie juxtaposed, it delivers a fabulous hook: I was instantly compelled to understand how such a transition / evolution could happen.
Yet, what really stood out for me in this novel is the astonishing power of the descriptive writing, and the author’s unswerving ability to deliver scenes – time and time again – that are so evocative. The writing is genuinely beautiful, and often rich in pathos. There were also numerous lines that I thought were just brilliant.This is not necessarily a ‘light’ read, but if you’re interested in beautifully written literary fiction, are interested in people and what shapes them to become who they are, or even just want to read something that is structurally interesting in terms of how it all fits together, then I highly, highly recommend The Ripening!

Nikki Hootman

Amazon. Reviewed in the United States on October 19, 2021


Reviewed in the United States on November 23, 2021

This is Lily MacKenzie’s best Tillie novel yet. If you have read about Tillie before, The Ripening will complete your understanding of her. If you have never ‘met’ Tillie, then just binge them all. The Ripening is the last published, but perhaps first-to-read . . . in any order, you can’t go wrong.

Cesca Lyons

Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2022

Why was 10/15/21 an important day? Pen-L Publishing released the print version of my new novel THE RIPENING: A CANADIAN GIRL GROWS UP, and I had the pleasure of discussing its release with my writer friend Cliff Garstang on his blog “I’ve Got Questions for You Lily Iona MacKenzie”! Take a look:

I’ve Got Questions for Lily Iona MacKenzie