Isle romance novelist loved animals, books
A Mililani resident who penned more than 30 published romance novels has died.
Penelope Neri died of cancer at the Queen’s Medical Center on Feb. 6. She was 63.
Born in Ipswich in southeast England on Feb. 27, 1951, Penelope Newson grew up in Suffolk County in England. She met her husband, Harvey Neri, while he was serving in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in England. She moved to Oahu’s North Shore in 1971.
“She jumped right into life on the North Shore — going from eating traditional British food to fisheye soup and poi, from being a bank teller to working on a taro field, and from painting scenes of the British countryside to raising a pet cow from birth,” said Julie Crabill, Neri’s daughter-in-law.
A great lover of animals, Neri adopted five dogs. And while living on a farm in Haleiwa, she cared for dozens of stray dogs her father-in-law brought to the home, Crabill said.
Neri, who studied Latin, Spanish and French in high school, was a self-taught writer. A voracious reader, she was known to finish off up to three books a day and had a hobby of reading the dictionary, Crabill said.
In 1980, while living in Mililani, Neri embarked on a career as a romance novelist and also wrote children’s books under the name PJ Neri.
Her first novel, titled “Passion’s Rapture,” was handwritten, and a neighbor typed it out in manuscript form, Neri’s son Jonathan recalled.
“She sent it out and had some rejections before it was accepted,” he said.
Jonathan Neri said his mother was constantly reading history books because her romance stories were tied to historical themes.
Romance was “not a taboo subject,” even among the children of the household, Jonathan Neri said. “We grew up with a lot of pictures in the house — men and women in embraces.”
Neri wrote about the way she envisioned her life.
“The guy and the girl got together in the end,” Johnathan Neri said. “It was love. … It was a happy ending.”
The author was a member of the Red Hat Society, Romance Writers of America and the TBPA, a British Heritage Society.
In addition to her husband, son Jonathan and daughter-in-law Julie Crabill, Neri is survived by another son, James; daughter Robyn Neri Fishkin; son-in-law Joseph Fishkin; daughter-in-law Lynn Neri; and grandsons Tyler, Connor and Jackson.
A service will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday at the Kamehameha Schools Memorial Chapel, 1887 Makuakane St.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Neri’s name to the Hawaiian Humane Society, hawaiianhumane.org.