[A review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can provide is an honest reaction to any given book.]
This book is listed as ‘lesbian romance’. So, what attracted an agnostic, heterosexual man to delve into its pages? The description intrigued me to begin with. A few sample pages quickly drew me in. There’s a common claim that men find lesbian sex stimulating: that may be true, but I’m not one of those men.
I read this book in the hope of broadening my understanding of a lifestyle and personality type of which I have very little knowledge. As a writer of fiction, the lives of others hold a real fascination for me: how else would I populate my books with diverse characters?
The most appealing aspect of this novel, a complex, engaging and entertaining read, is the depth of character displayed in those who play on the stage of the writer’s imagination. These are real people. Flawed, interesting, diverting, attractive, unpleasant, imperfect and, most of all, loving. Given that this is essentially a romance, the love should be taken for granted. But in a book of this depth, nothing can be presumed, nothing is superficial.
Tackling a wide range of themes, the novel explores the relationships between people, especially women, and digs deep into their emotional and psychological lives. Employing specific areas of literary history and the reputations of a number of celebrated lesbian personalities, it investigates the way that personality, nurture and experience all combine to drive the needs and desires of its engaging role of players.
We learn about Jung, touch on existentialism, visit self-deception, touch lightly on problems associated with religion, especially as it imposes on those who fail to conform to accepted norms, and we’re exposed to some of the realities of prejudice.
The cast is largely middle-class American, with a smattering of Continental actors playing small but sometimes vital roles. Conspiracy theory emerges along with elements of science fiction, mysticism and the paranormal.
There is, inevitably in such an honest portrayal of love, some erotic content but it is in the emotional arena that most of the story emerges. The power of the imagination over those with creative drives is demonstrated very well, as is the deceptive element of the dream: an area still much misunderstood and open to a multitude of interpretations.
This is a complex story with a narrative that takes the reader along a fascinating route, as stimulating to the intellect as it is to the imagination. I feel a deeper understanding of the lesbian persona and a greater appreciation of that mysterious world after reading this book. So, a rewarding experience and one that will inform my opinions for the future.