6 Books That Defy Classification

6 Books That Defy Classification on this episode of Les Do Books with Tara and guest Jeannie Levig

Jeannie Levig, awesome author and fellow reviewer at The Lesbian Review, joins Tara in this episode to talk about books that don’t neatly fall within any one genre, and therefore are best called general fiction or literary fiction.

Listen to this episode here

Jeannie’s picks

Life in Death by M. Ullrich

Publisher Bold Strokes Books

On Audiobook Not on audiobook

Synopsis

Memories and scars are the signs of a life well lived, and more often than not our milestones are similar: love, a first home, marriage, and a child. The same goes for Marty and Suzanne Dempsey, but happy memories and years of a life built together weren’t enough to help their relationship survive the terminal diagnosis of their only child, Abigail. Coping in their own ways, Marty and Suzanne drift apart and eventually divorce after one finds comfort in the arms of a stranger. The expected and devastating death of their daughter had seemingly severed any ties that remained between them, but an insightful letter from Abigail gives Marty the one thing that seemed so elusive before: Hope.

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The Art of Peeling an Orange by Victoria Avilan

Publisher Shaggy Dog Stories

On Audiobook Narrated by Christine Williams

Synopsis

When Carly Rosen is jilted on the eve of her wedding, she embarks on a startling journey of self-discovery. This gender-bending, risque retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in sizzling West Hollywood, echoes the ancient story of the lovers in the Underworld.

What do you do when the love of your life has eloped with another woman on the eve of your wedding? The other woman is a famous beauty named Anna Garibaldi, and their love story is splashed all over the tabloids, making you die inside. To add insult to injury, the one who has abandoned you dies unexpectedly, having left you a cryptic text message suggesting that you were always the one and only. Where do you go from here for solace, for justice?

If you are Carly Rosen, a portrait artist with huge imagination, you use your art to charm your way into the life and inner circle of the alluring Anna Garibaldi, whose seductive and secretive underworld is nothing you could have expected. You say goodbye to life as you know it and take a breathless ride down to the depths of the Land of the Dead, to where passions and dangers await you and nothing is as it seems. Don’t forget a coin for the ferryman. Bon Voyage!

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The Smell of Rain by Cameron MacElvee

Publisher Bold Strokes Books

On Audiobook Not available on audiobook

Synopsis

Air Force Lieutenant and military interpreter Chrys Safis lost her leg fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria. Once back home in DC, her fiancée leaves, her military career ends, and her faith in humanity evaporates. With prescription drugs and alcohol her only relief from the pain, Chrys is on her way to becoming a statistic.

That is until the State Department calls and offers her an important assignment—to serve as a diplomatic liaison and interpreter for a Turkish national living in exile. Reyha Arslan, a wise and elegant woman with a tragic past, shows Chrys that there’s still beauty to embrace and reason to hope despite the world’s cruelty. With Reyha’s help, Chrys’s broken spirit starts to heal and she learns that the most significant love is often the shortest lived.

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Perfect Little Worlds by Clifford Mae Henderson

Publisher Bold Strokes Books

On Audiobook Not available on audiobook

Synopsis

Lucy can’t hold the secret any longer. Twenty-six years ago, her sister did the unthinkable.

Portland, Oregon, 1989: Lucy Mustin, living somewhat happily, pumping out wedding cakes for starry-eyed heterosexuals while she, a lesbian, can’t legally marry, is called upon to travel to Santa Cruz to help her autistic sister, Alice, care for their Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother. She knew the call was coming sooner or later. She’d just hoped it would be later. Mother issues. The possibility that resolution might be lost to dementia is a heartbreak she doesn’t feel like feeling.

Santa Cruz, California, one week later: a trip to the family bakery ups the ante tenfold when the Loma Prieta/World Series Earthquake, racking up a whopping 7.1 on the Richter scale, traps the sisters below ground. There, Alice reminds Lucy of a promise made to their mother many years ago, a promise she plans to keep.

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Tara’s picks

A Return to Arms by Sheree L. Greer

Publisher Bold Strokes Books

On Audiobook Not available on audiobook

Synopsis

When Toya meets Folami and joins the activist collective RiseUP!, she thinks she’s found her life’s purpose. Folami’s sensuality and her passion for social justice leave Toya feeling that, at last, she’s met someone she can share all parts of her life with. But when a controversial police shooting blurs the lines between the personal and the political, Toya is forced to examine her identity, her passions, and her allegiances.

Folami, a mature and dedicated activist, challenges Toya’s commitment to the struggle while threatening to pull her back into the closet to maintain the intense connection they share. However, Nina, a young, free-spirited artist, invites Toya to explore the intersections between sexual and political freedom.

With the mounting tensions and social unrest threatening to tear the community apart, can Toya find a safe place to live and love while working to uplift her people?

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Postcards From the Canyon by Lisa Gitlin

Publisher Bywater Books

On Audiobook Not available on audiobook

Synopsis

Joanna’s mother just died, the FBI wants her to get a psychiatric evaluation, undocumented Chinese immigrants have taken over her apartment building, her lover hooks up with her best friend, and the country is being run by lunatics. Joanna clings to sanity by writing about her childhood, but plunging back into her tumultuous past only adds chaos to her life.

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Backcast by Ann McMan

Publisher Bywater Books

On Audiobook Narrated by Christine Williams

Synopsis

When sculptor and author Barb Davis is given an NEA grant to pair original feminist sculptures with searing first-person essays on transitions in women’s lives, she organizes a two-week writing retreat with 12 of the best, brightest, and most notorious lesbian authors in the business. But in between regularly scheduled happy hours and writing sessions, the women enter a tournament bass-fishing competition, receive life coaching from a wise-cracking fish named Phoebe, and uncover a subterranean world of secrets and desires that is as varied and elusive as the fish that swim in the waters of Lake Champlain.

Set on the beautiful shores of Vermont’s Lake Champlain, Backcast is richly populated with an expansive cast of endearing and outrageous characters who battle writer’s block, quirky locals, personal demons, unexpected attractions, and even each other during their two-week residency. For Barb and each of her 12 writers, the stakes in this fast-moving story are high, but its emotional and romantic payoffs are slow and sweet. Filled with equal parts laugh-out-loud humor and breathtaking pathos, Backcast serves up a sometimes irreverent, sometimes sobering look at the hidden lives of women, and how they laugh, love, lose, and blunder through their own search for meaning.

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Find Jeannie Levig online

Transcript

please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

hi I’m Tara welcome to Les Do books you can email me at Tara@thelesbianreview.com if any questions or comments are come join our Facebook groups lesbian turbulent Club I’m excited because I’m joined today by Jeannie Levig one of the other fabulous reviewers of the lesbian review and author of five lesbian romances the latest is a wish upon a star and it’s available everywhere from bold strokes folks welcome Jeannie Thank You Tara thank you for having me and I’m thrilled to be here so you like me are pretty big reader of lesbian fiction well we talked about you coming on the show you came up with what I thought was a really cool theme that hasn’t been covered here before and I think other people will be excited about do you want to share with listeners what we’re going to be talking about today yeah we started out Tara night when we were talking about this podcast we started out talking about an area that I’ve wondered about for quite a while and those are the books that don’t particularly fit into any specific genre you know we have the genres of romance and mystery and speculative and historical and all of those but then there are the books that don’t fall into those categories and I’ve never really known what to call them I’ve heard them called various things and Tara and I agreed that for this podcast we can call them either general fiction or in this case general lesbian fiction or we can call them literary lesbian fiction and the difference between that and genre in my understanding is that each genre has kind of a set of rules and I’ll use romance as an example since that’s such a big John rrah any market and in genre fiction there you know there are rules that an author is expected to follow and they’re offered as if they’re their promise to the reader that certain things will happen and in some cases certain things will not happen and in romance the biggest promise is a happy ending a lot of people read genre fiction and what they love about genre fiction is that it offers because the the reader can know exactly what to expect depending on which genre they read a happiest Gate from life or from you know what some people call the realities of life and you’re not you don’t find that in general fiction general lesbian fiction or literary fiction because in literary fiction slash general lesbian fiction anything can happen isn’t that right there oh yeah it’s definitely true and so and that those kinds of books are as much as I love many different genres the category we’re speaking of today it’s it’s one of my absolute favorite reads and yes I have to be in the right frame of mind for one of the books that we’re speaking of today for that reason for one thing a lot of them tend to deal with heavier subject matter and like I said there you can’t have an expectation reading this type of fiction you just have to be open to whatever happens so if I’m looking for a happy escape I don’t pick up one of these books or a book out of this category i if I want a happy escape I pick up a romance a alight mystery you know if I want not necessarily a happy escape but something I can count on I pick up maybe a historical fiction something like that but even historical fiction a lot of a historical fiction falls into the category we’re talking about today also so that’s how this podcast was born so for people listening what we’re going to be doing is we each have three books that we recommend so just to emphasize again these are not romances don’t expect them to follow typical romance formulas or tropes and don’t expect there to necessarily be happily ever afters even if there might be somewhat optimistic endings and these they still really don’t fit the typical romance mold and the reason I call that out specifically is because often in reviews on Goodreads and Amazon we’ll see books like these even sometimes specifically these they might get dinged a little bit in their reviews because lesbian fiction often gets or less fit as we commonly call it often gets perceived as synonymous with romance that people think it’s all romance and it’s not that’s something that we have talked about another podcast that it’s really not all the same so please be kind of these books these are books that we love and we hope that you’re gonna love them too so to get started Jeannie what’s your first book my first book is one that I absolutely loved the first time I read it and I’ve read it several times since and I reread it in preparation for this podcast and every single time I just I am just so blown away by this book and it is life and death by am Ulric it’s published by bold strokes books and it came out I believe in 2016 if I’m wrong about that I apologize to make it all wreck but I believe it was 2016 and it is it is a phenomenal book as Tara stressed it is not a romance it does deal with a couple it is a relationship book I will say that but it is not a romance it does and this one interestingly enough after all our talk about it it actually does have a happy ending in my opinion it’s just this couple has to go through so much to get to it but it’s a it’s a very deep read Ulric I think was very courageous in writing this book because she incorporated into this book to two of the things that in my experience upset can upset readers the most she deals with infidelity within a marriage and she deals with the death of a child both in the same book so I want to applaud her just for her boots BA for doing that and then the way she does it the way she handles it is just masterful the I don’t know how much I can talk about this book without spoilers does it have to be without spoilers it probably should well do you want me to do join me to read out the synopsis and oh yes I’m sorry yes okay so the synopsis for this book is memories and scars are the signs of a life well-lived and more often than not our milestones are similar love a first home marriage and a child the same goes for Marty and Susanne Dempsey but happy memories and years of a life built together weren’t enough to help their relationship survive the terminal diagnosis of their only child Abigail coping in their own ways Marty and Suzanne drift apart and eventually divorced after one finds comfort in the arms of a stranger the expected and devastating death of their daughter had seemingly severed any ties that remain between them but an insightful letter from Abigail gives Marty the one thing that seems so elusive before hope yes and I will talk about it without spoilers because just because it’s it really is do that respect and for readers who do want to read it I don’t know I don’t want to blow anything so what I’m gonna talk about is what I already said just how phenomenal it is that Alright tackled these two topics in the same book and the fact that these are these are not topics that you would find in hardly any romance novels and so if this is an example of what Tara and I were speaking of in the beginning if you pick up this book with the expectation of a romance you’re gonna be upset if you pick it up with either no expectations and open to what the blurb says you are going to be blown away because like I said this book deals with those two issues it the very first chapter you do know abigail is sick and you know what she has and the very opening page the book opens up on the day that Marty comes home and she has signed the divorce papers and so the very opening of the book is it’s tough one part of the book goes from there forward through Abigail’s death and through everything that happens going forward but within the structure of the book Ulric also at the same time it alternates back and forth between moving from that point forward and then it’ll jump back like a chapter at a time or a section of a chapter at a time so that you also get to experience from the day Marty and Suzanne meet and date and fall in love and get married and so you have you have both timelines going on simultaneously which sounds like it might be confusing and I don’t know that every writer could pull it off but all Rick pulls it off just beautifully so you’re never confused you’re never you’re never too overwhelmed with the daily stuff that they’re going through in the present but you’re also never lost from that it’s just one of my all-time favorite books and it has for me a very a very spiritual element to it in that there is so much of a theme of redemption and forgiveness and acceptance and throughout the entire book and it’s just it’s just a beautiful read and I leave ekam end it to anyone and like I said just go into it with without any expectations so that is my first book okay well my first book is a return to arms by Cheri L Grier also from bold storks books and actually I also think it was from 2016 and the blurb for that is when Toya meets Fulani and joins the activist collective rise up she thinks she’s found her life’s purpose follow me sensuality and her passion for social justice leave Toya feeling that at last she’s met someone she can share all parts of her life with but when a controversial police shooting blurs the lines between the personal and the political Toya is forced to examine her identity her passions and her allegiances salamé amateur and dedicated activist challenges to his commitment to the struggle while threatening to pull her back into the closet to maintain intense connection they share however Nina a young free-spirited artist invites Toya to explore the intersections between sexual and political freedom with the mounting tensions and social unrest threatening to tear the community apart can Toya find a safe place to live and love while working to uplift her people this book is amazing the writing is incredible it’s gripping at points I was actually like I can actually feel panic mounting in my body in some of the scenes because of the way it was written and from a blurb it’s probably fairly obvious that it’s a lot of it was inspired by black lives matter and that movement as it was coming up and the thing that I loved about this book is that it really examines closely how the personal can be so political career has an incredible discussion of intersectionality and how oppression can happen on many sides because even as these women are fighting for black people and against police oppression they’re still having to deal with misogyny and homophobia from the same people in that movement and you know she calls out the names of some people who died because of police like Tamir rice and Eric garner and Mikey Boyd and that kept it very grounded in what was happening at the time and frankly what is still happening and the thing that I love about this story one of I should say one of the many things that I love about this story because it is incredible and I love it on every level but it for me reading it was a lightbulb moment about what’s going on in a lesbian fiction genre and kind of what I was saying about how the genre was defined by romance but there’s room for so much more that lesbian romance frankly what was political and writing stories about women loving women was a radical act and continues to be a radical act but we also have space for stories like this that shows that there are other struggles happening and that we need to take them seriously that’s a really great point yeah so I mean there’s also the fact that like one of the characters so toya like she came from money her family was quite affluent and she had to leave that behind and so when we’re talking about intersectionality there is like there’s there’s race there’s class there’s sexuality there’s gender and you know these characters have to make a decision about what’s what is more important to them like they they need to kind of fight on many sides how do you do that who do you do that with so yes I highly highly recommend this one like I said it’s a few years old but you can get it you can get it anywhere it’s on the bold strokes book website it’s on Amazon kind of anywhere that you can get books so what is your next book my next book is the art of peeling an orange by Victoria Avalon I believe that’s how you say her name so and I will let you read the assualt the synopsis this time all right Carly Rosen is an artist who at the beginning of the story is mad with grief and obsessed with Anna Garibaldi the woman who stole Carly’s fiance Greg from her on the eve of their wedding even worse is the fact that Greg died apparently on his way to see Carly sending a cryptic text message to her at the time of his demise Carly needs to somehow punish this woman and reclaim the memories of Greg’s love and the life they shared so she figures out a way to use her art to attract the attention of the famous Garibaldi after meeting Anna however Carly’s obsession transforms into something even deeper Anna Garibaldi is an enigma she has very obviously become involved with Greg but we don’t understand why at all Anna has been a model an actress a singer a director and an author it seems like every few years she reinvents herself and whoever she becomes is just as successful as her last iteration when she and Carly meet we find a woman who has suffered immense tragedies in her life and his loss is ongoing and very present even as a strange and fascinating connection springs into being between the two women a connection that first rested on the love each had for the and they both lost the very quickly becomes about so much more everything changes when their lives become intensely entwined and secrets about driving a wedge between them this is a story filled with twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing it’s a tale of intrigue and surprises love and obsession and joy and tragedy now this book it’s another one I had I read this one back-to-back twice I actually listened to the audiobook the audiobook is outstanding in in addition to the fabulous story element the narration is just so beautifully done and I listened to it and immediately just sat down and listened to the whole thing again for two reasons one because it impacted me so powerfully particularly the ending and secondly because there’s so many twists and turns in it that you I got to the end of the book and it’s like I I had to go back through and read it to because I got to the end of the book and thought no way I mean there’s no you know and then so then I went back to the beginning of the book and basically checked her and paid attention to all the twists and turns because I thought you know there’s no way I could have missed this and it’s like so but this book it’s exactly what I’d said and I Amy did a review of this book for TLR and the synopsis you just read is kind of I tweaked it some of this stuff from the review because I I was i sat down to I looked at the actual blurb and thought no I don’t want to use that I want to say more about it than that but anyway so that’s where the synopsis is from so thank you to Amy for her part of that but this book is I’m not even sure what to say this book has so many just beautifully done twists and turns and I mean this the second you think you’ve caught on to what’s going on it goes another way and it has a there’s also an underlying cause there’s a haunting element to it that for readers who really enjoy that a real it’s a really deep read and it takes you into it took me I’ll speak for me it took me into a part of myself that that made me question some things about myself and about what I think and what I feel and because Anna in particularly you know she doesn’t start neither neither one of the characters really start out or didn’t start out for me as being all that likable because when the book first opens Carly is I mean just completely lost in grief and the need for revenge you know which you know it doesn’t present a terribly likable character that you want to spend you know 300 pages with and then Anna is because the book starts out in Carly’s point of view you don’t see any positive side of Anna right off the bat because you’re coming through Carly’s point of view and so the build-up of that and the way the characters just step-by-step change and reform into characters that you just really feel very deeply is just so well done and I won’t give away anything in this book because it would so detract from the book but one of the reasons I chose this book specifically for this podcast is that I will say it does not have a happy ending it has a very tragic ending and the first time I read it when I got to the end of the book I went what then I thought about it and I really looked at it and I thought you know this book could not end any other way and this this ending is true to the book and if she did it any other way it would it wouldn’t be authentic it wouldn’t be right it wouldn’t fit the book and then I found out that there is an alternate ending that you can download from Amazon and so I I went to the alternate ending and I downloaded it and I read it and I thought no this this so wouldn’t have worked if if that had been the ending to the book and and it was it was your you know it was very typically happy ending and you know they’re looking bhaiyaa moments and their vision you know but it didn’t it wouldn’t work it absolutely did not work and then I was in a conversation with the author at one point and we were talking about the endings and the alternate endings and she told me that originally she wrote what became the alternate ending that was the original ending and she she said the same thing she said it just it just didn’t work and so you know it’s there’s a lot about this book that that puts this book in this category but the main thing is the ending of the book so if you do read this book before warned and if I if I were gonna if I were to write a review on the book and I believe and I’m Amy did put this in the review that she wrote there are some triggers in this book and that is that is one of them you know one of the triggers is that it’s not a happy ending so so don’t expect it in any way but expect to be impacted very powerfully by this book you know and then there are elements of romance in it because you know that’s what happens but there’s so there’s so much other stuff even around the romance there’s like synopsis ed there’s so many secrets that they both have between them that you know it just it’s just really it’s just really a great great read in this category so again highly highly recommended you’re listening to the lesbian talk show the lesbians all choked on you have of podcast information so my next book is postcards from the canyon by Lisa Caitlin which was released last last year I believe was last year by a by wider books faced with a sudden and unexpected death of her mother disillusioned novelist Joanna Jacobs begins chronicling her unruly childhood in 1960s Cleveland Ohio but the writing exercise that starts out as a means to reflect and refocus becomes a journal of Joanna’s rebellious existence Jewish and gay yet unwilling to expose herself to the accompanying scrutiny and rejection Joanna spends much of her youth fostering chaos and embracing self-denial even while celebrating an affirming commitment to the psychiatric ward after an inadvertent bomb threat to a conservative talk show hosts brings the FBI knocking on her door Joanna finds herself navigating an unexpected immigrant invasion a crew of juvenile delinquents in her living room and a never-ending low-pressure system when the going finally gets too tough to wrangle alone Joanna turns to her lifelong friends for emotional support but this comfort is tempered by confusing cocktail lingering hurts unresolved anger and resurgent disappointment making it even more difficult for Joanna to put her life to paper postcards in the canyon is a snapshot of one woman’s rapidly changing world where control is an illusion and chaos suffers shelter from an unrelenting storm this book is literally unlike anything I’ve ever read in my life it says that it’s 360 pages I read it on my Kindle so I don’t know if that’s true it didn’t feel like it it is a book that moves so quickly that it feels like you’re being dragged by the force of it whether you’re prepared or not for what’s going to happen and it takes place in the present and so Joanna is not a young woman her mother was 90 when she died and it really did just kind of knock her for a loop and in a way it’s also like two books one each chapter is told in two parts so the first part of each chapter is always from the memoir that wrote Johanna is writing so we’re getting in one we’re getting a fictional memoir and then the second half of each chapter is actually let me finish my thought about that so it’s from that memoir and it covers kind of from her childhood until her freshman year at university and it’s told in the second person that’s interesting that doesn’t hardly ever happen yeah yeah that’s very very different and it’s incredibly immersive because it really brings us right into Joanna’s young perspective don’t tell some of our listeners what second person is a lot of people don’t know that I mean it’s the it’s the you right like doing this right yeah so as she’s writing that it kind of puts us like we become young Joanna and we get to feel everything young Joanna is feeling and we get to see how big her feelings are and how little impulse control she has which on the one hand is kind of just like kids because kids have little to no impulse control because their little brains are so forming the other hand it’s also kind of like it’s Joanna that’s who she is because when we see her in the present she makes these decisions that like I kind of wanted to shake the out of her sometimes because the made no sense I’m like what are you doing but you can see like she’s see you’re feeling like this kid who’s doing things and you don’t know why you’re doing them and like Joanna doesn’t have the vocabulary to explain why she’s doing the things that she’s doing and then the second part of each chapter we come back to where she is in the present having just written that part of her memoir and she can be like reflecting on what she was writing she could be talking about what she’s feeling as she’s grieving her mother’s death there’s in in the in the memoir section we see like her best friend Molly who’s actually there in the present time as well and so we find out like what Molly thinks about us she writing the book like what Matt what Molly thinks of the memoirs and how she’s kind of poking at some of her memories and it’s so interesting and compelling because she makes such bad decisions as an adult like there and like I just wanted to yell it or make better choices like literally one of my philosophies as a parent what am i one of the outcomes that I want as a parent is that my daughter’s learned to make good choices and I don’t know that Joanna’s parents had this is doing but at the same time the writing is so good in both the memoir section and the present the novel it’s her writing is so crisp and it’s so evocative it’s just wonderfully done hmm and I’m gonna read a tiny bit i I did review this book at lambda literary and this is a little part that I put in there and it talks about that when when Jonah is young she finds a copy of the rise and fall of the Third Reich on her parents bookshelf mm-hmm and she says you turn you return to the book every day after that devouring the same nauseating passages like someone gorging on hundreds of marshmallows burnt to a crisp and getting sicker and sicker but not being able to stop and for me the reason why I plucked that for my review is that I felt like it perfectly encapsulated how it felt reading this sometimes because Joanna doesn’t hide the terrible things that she did because when she was in high school she did some pretty awful things and it’s all there like she just lays it all bare and I couldn’t turn away hmm I couldn’t put it down I couldn’t stop and I can’t even find the words to describe what this book did to me because like I said it’s entirely different from my experience reading anything else I’ve never read anything like it excuse me so if reading something very unusual deeply character-driven with really excellent tight evocative writing is your jam then this is a book I cannot recommend enough that sounds great I’m gonna have to put that on my reading list good yep yeah that’s my kind of book so what is your last book my last book is the smell of rain by Cameron McAfee and it came out just last year I believe not sure what month but it came out in 2018 and it is really a great book and like the others you know I’ve read it several times already and you want to read the synopsis before I get going here and forget all about it I sure do Air Force lieutenant and military interpreter Chris saffice fought bravely alongside Kurdish forces in Syria she fought with some of the bravest and most selfless women she had ever met she lost her leg during an ambush and after returning to her home in Washington DC she is plagued with PTSD she turns to alcohol and prescription medication to block out the memories of her friends dying while she was powerless to help them her fiancee Mary leaves her because Chris has all but given up her faith in humanity and herself out of the blue Chris gets a call from the State Department offering her a position as the interpreter and diplomatic liaison for rioja Ireland I am going to just apologize to the author if I’m pronouncing these names wrong I’m doing my best and I don’t know yeah sure about right huh all right I don’t that’s I don’t know how that’s what I’m rolling with okay a Turkish national living in exile she is in America to address the General Assembly of the United Nations and is staying in DC before she moves on to New York ray has a wise charming and Ellie woman with her own tragic past Chris and Rioja are an unlikely pair but Rahab teaches Chris that there is beauty to be found in the impermanence of life Chris’s wounded soul begins to heal as a result of rehouse tenderness and insight ken array has loved help Chris find her way back to the idealistic to turn into woman she once was I don’t know Jeanne and Kenji I haven’t read this book nope don’t spoil this this book is is it’s a fascinating book both both Raya and Chris as you can tell have really really tragic backstories there are some scenes that are revisited that are a little bit difficult to read you know given that Chris’s is in war and Raya comes from some very unpleasant stuff as well but Redemption and moving forward is a is a really strong theme in this book and what really struck me about it this this book in the storyline of this book there there is a love story in the book if you really look at this book on the surface some people could I can see where some people would consider it a romance up to a point that it isn’t that it reminds me this plot reminds me of did you ever read Prince of tides by Pat Conroy or see the movie Prince of tides I saw the movie I was 12 in that movie Nick I’ll views the movie cuz I don’t remember the character’s names but the character that plays Nick that Nick Nolte plays he’s married but he is his he’s separated from his wife and he is his twin sister is going through she tried to commit suicide and her therapist is trying to get to the bottom of it before she actually succeeds the next time and so she starts talking to the twin brother who is Nick Nolte so Nick Nolte is working with this therapist but he’s not her her patient and the therapist is played by Barbra Streisand it’s a great movie anyway Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand’s characters they end up in a relationship and they actually end up falling in love but the whole purpose of the relationship unbeknownst to them is to bring them both forward in their evolvement and in Nick Nolte’s case in his healing of his childhood because he had yet similar childhood to his twin sister of course where all of her problems come from and he’s just repressed them all and she’s repressed them also but hers are out picturing her repression is out picturing a suicide attempts so anyway but the whole purpose of the relationship is to bring them forward so that they can return to their lives whole the purpose of their relationship isn’t happily ever after and that’s very true in the smell of rain because the relationship between Chris and that’s her name rheya you’ve read it I have read it yeah I suppose I just read the blurb I should have more than a three-second memory then but anyway the relationship between Chris and Raya is a relationship like that and it it covers the majority of the book but its purpose is that for each of them to then move on in their own in each in her own way to what’s next and in the beginning of the book you Chris is in a relationship she’s actually engaged I believe but if not engaged she’s living with this woman named Mary and Mary has given her all in trying to do whatever she can do to to help Chris through her PTSD and you know to because in the beginning of the book Chris is she’s into alcohol she’s into scription pain meds she is she’s doing she’s just all over the place and not not recovering so Mary tries to get her to move to to make a move and a brand new start somewhere else and it just it doesn’t work so Mary goes and that’s when Chris meets Rhea and so for the majority of the book you are in some stage of relationship with Chris and Rath and it’s very profound it’s very deep it’s very Raya is so just so incredibly nurturing and she knows cuz she her backstory is different but she understands like Mary never could she understands what Ray at what Chris needs in order to heal and so again similar to life in death there’s a there’s a very strong healing theme there’s a very strong Redemption moving forward theme in this book and then the ending is just I was just so impacted and moved by the ending that I just can’t even and I don’t want to spoil it so I can’t talk about it but the ending was just so powerful and it was one of those books that I just I just had to sit with it for two or three days afterwards I just really contemplate the ending and what because there’s so many ramifications – for both of them – the way it ended and again their journeys are side by side their journeys are similar but at the same time they’re so different you really have to look underneath everything that’s going on on the surface and it’s really it’s a very deep read all three of these books that I’ve talked about today they’re very deep reads and each time you read them you know you go a little bit deeper even so but the smell of rain by Cameron Mackel V is just an outstanding book and again I recommend it highly sounds wonderful it is it is so my last book is back cast by a McMann early fans of the podcast are Harley laughing right now because I used to talk about a McMahon on most episode it’s been a while folks it’s been a while and I couldn’t not talk about this book so the blurb is when sculptor and author barb Davis is given an NEA grant to pair original feminist sculptures with searing first-person essays on transitions and women’s lives she organizes a two-week writing retreat with 12 of the best brightest and most notorious lesbian authors in the business but in between regularly scheduled happy hours and writing sessions the women enter a tournament bass fishing competition received life coaching from a wisecracking fish named Phoebe and uncover a subterranean world of secrets and desires that is as varied and elusive as the fish that swim the inland sea set on the beautiful shores of Vermont’s Lake Champlain that cast is richly populated with an expansive cast of endearing and outrageous characters who battle writer’s block quirky locals personal demons unexpected attractions and even each other during their two-week residency for Barb and each of her 12 writers the stakes in this fast-moving story are high but it’s emotional and romantic payoffs are slow and sweet this is the first book that I actually read by Anne McMahon so my first experience was not Jericho like it was for so many people it was this and it not my freakin socks off I wouldn’t shut up about it for probably a year and a half clearly I’m still not shutting up about it because I’m bringing it up now it came out in 2015 I read it very early 2016 and I was so mad that I didn’t put it on my best books of 2015 list that I started a new tradition with my best of list for each year at the lesbian review which is the best book I read this year that wasn’t published this year and for people that read her short story collection sidecar one of the stories actually features all of these authors and how they first met at a conference they all end up in jail together it’s hilarious like it’s just ridiculous this book is a reunion of all of those characters and if you haven’t read sidecar if you haven’t read that short story it really doesn’t matter but this book brings them together so that they all come to this writers retreat which I guess is that like a lodge or hotel or something like that and they’re all writing their essays and it’s quite funny as they’re like what we see as they’re meeting up they have like the outliners and the Panthers so like the people who outline who tend to outline their books people who tend to just fly by the seat of their pants the people that are in between that they call the panty liner working in teams but like to work on their own individual essays and it’s very funny very quirky quite really ridiculous I was laughing out loud in a lot of spots and the reason why I think this book is so brilliant is that there are I believe there are as many chapters as there are women there because there’s 12 women plus barb barb writes an essay – and each chapter has one of the essays and it doesn’t tell you who wrote it and the essays are intensely personal hmm they cover a gamut of things there it you know I think one of them is about I haven’t read in a in a while so I’m hoping you know Anne’s gonna forgive me if I fumble any of these and I’m sure she will but there’s like a Jewish woman talking about when she got her first period there’s a woman talking about her experiences in a convent and how she was there to be a nun and she fell in love with another woman how that went I know there are stories of you know some of the women went through sexual abuse at younger ages and that’s there and so for people reading this if sexual violence is a trigger you should know that that this is a part of it but I mean that’s a very unfortunately real thing or very real part of life for many women and I think she was absolutely right to include it and it’s very interesting there was even one woman who is intersex I believe and she talks about her relationship with her genitals and what that means and so you go back and forth between these really personal beautiful essays that are sometimes heartbreaking to your back in the present who wrote that who’s talking about that who was so willing to bear it in this essay but are they talking about it or do we sometimes see because we do sometimes see the ramifications of it later because at the end you can get the list of who wrote what and for me it worked so beautifully as an exploration of what we each do with our own stories what do we share and what do we hide do we share them with and how do we share them because we’re all each telling our own story all the time and then it goes back to like there’s a fish that loves eating tomato aspic and it’s ridiculous and so yeah I mean that that was that was the book that kicked off my fangirling for Ann McMahon because again kind of like what I was saying about postcards in the canyon I haven’t read anything like this before or since and I just I cannot recommend it enough you know that aspect is so true of so many books in this category we’re talking about is you know one of the things that puts them in this category is that you’ve either never seen anything like them or you’ve seen very little like them you know and that is should probably be the first element that tells you they belong in this category you know if you if you haven’t seen it before because you know like we talked about before the the genre fiction there’s there’s formulaic you know and yes you can the author can push some boundaries within the formula but they’re still they’re still generally a formula there so if you if you’re reading a book like what you just said and you’ve never read anything like it before you’re reading one of these books that’s right and if you like it you can look for some more well I would say if you like it and you want to look for some more and you maybe want to ask genie for some of her recommendations how can people can access to online genie you see how it’s like I was very very slick that’s very slick did I say two more things before I got into that the first is there I had a heck of a time narrowing down to three books and so I am just gonna put one more title and author out there and say it fits in this category it’s phenomenal book and that is by Clifford May Henderson and it’s perfect little worlds and it was I it broke my heart to take it out of the discussion today so I just want to slip it in there and if you like what you’ve heard in all the books Tara and I have spoken about today you will also want to get perfect little worlds by Clifford May Henderson okay so there’s that and if you are looking for these types of books I am a bold strokes author so I know most about what they publish and on the bold strokes website under any of these books you will find some taglines that are links and any book all of the books I’ve spoken about well any of the bold strokes books which are in life and death and the smell of rain for me and what was yours Tara the bold strokes book I’ll call their arms the call to arms no nope a return to arms I think I read the arms is some other really famous back the return to arms anyway if you go on both strokes and you find the tag link general fiction you are in this category and if you click on that link you will find it will take you to a search results page that have all of both strokes books general fiction titles in it and so it’ll make it very easy to find books that fall into this category that we’ve discussed today so now where am i online you can find me on Facebook just under my personal Facebook page is Jeanne Levesque but I also post all of my writing stuff and that’s probably the best place on Facebook to actually communicate with me I do have an author page that’s just Jeanne Levesque books that you can you can like that and you can reach me through that but I’m not as good at noticing messages personal messages that come in on that one but if you just want to know about my writing or other books that I’m promoting that’s the one you want if you go to my if you friend me on my personal page you’re gonna wade through pictures of my kids and my grandkids and my dog is my life and everything like that so take your pick so you can find me two places on Facebook you can find me on Twitter just under my Twitter handle is at Jeanne Levesque very easy to find my website is jeanne levitt.com and that’s where any of my own book news and publishing news that’s where you’ll find that there’s a bio there I do have a blog that I post to every once in awhile but don’t count on a lot there until I manage to get going on it but anyway those are the those are the main places that you can find me online and I love hearing from readers I love talking about books I love everything so please if you want to talk about anything contact me that is all for this episode thank you so much Jeannie for joining me Thank You Tara for allowing me to be here this was a lot of fun and I just I love promoting the books that impact me so powerfully and getting new titles from you and I love those two books I want to tell you that I listen to this podcast and I always I always walk away with a new title with something to think about with I just I love this podcast so thank you very much for having me that is wonderful thank you so much for your kind words mm-hmm I’m Tara and you’ve been listening to Les Deux books remember to email me at Tara Apple is being reviewed calm with your questions or comments or if you want more book recommendations I am happy to send them to you if you’re an author who’s interested in joining me on the show to talk about the less fake you love trends that have you interested or your story about how you discovered lesbian fiction please reach out and let me know if you’ve enjoyed this episode please check out their show notes you’ll find a patreon link for the delays bein talk-show or you can just visit patreon.com slash the lesbian talk show our patrons get exclusive content that no one else does like bonus audio from other shows author interviews and anywhere in between don’t forget to join us on our Facebook group the lesbian revue book club so you can talk to us about anything you’re reading and loving you can also find me and all the other podcasters on the lesbian talk show channel at our Facebook group the lesbian talk show checker to find this and many other great shows all you need to do to search for the lesbian talk show on itunes pod bean stitcher or Spotify