On the Shelf September 2019

On the Shelf September 2019  is your monthly update on what the Lesbian Historic Motif Project has been doing. Episode 38a with Heather Rose Jones

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Transcript

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[Music] this is Heather Rose Jones with a lesbian historic motif podcast this weekly podcast looks at lesbian themes in history and literature and historic research into gender and sexuality we talk about current historical fiction with queer female characters including fantastic versions of the past and have interviews with authors who write those stories and in months when we have a fifth show we’re proud to present new original lesbian historical fiction for your enjoyment welcome to on the shelf for September 2019 what a month I spent half of August traveling to Dublin Ireland for the world science fiction and fantasy convention and the other half either preparing or recovering from it I loved trouble but Wow is it exhausting I hope you enjoyed the audio postcards episode are recorded in odd moments at the convention this podcast has always straddled the fuzzy line between strictly historical material and historical fantasy even when I’m looking at queer women and historic literature there are often fantastic elements whether it’s the chivalric romances of EDA or silence or the classical mythology of Clifton and Diana or simply the fantastic if sincere beliefs of previous centuries in the possibility of spontaneous changes of sexes these overlaps are one of the reasons why I decided to open up next year’s fiction series to include stories with fantastic elements that reflect the types of motifs we find around queer characters in the literature of the past I plan to be cross promoting the call for submissions in SFF circles and of course ordinary historical stories are solidly on target as well I hope you’re encouraging all the talented authors you know to consider submitting something the blog has been discussing articles in a collection about representations of single women in medieval and early modern England this is one of many topics where historical studies of women in general offer a useful grounding for queer characters one of my favorite articles covered in August included a discussion of how the profession of money lending became a profitable sideline for single women in the early modern era one that not only provides an income but often served an important community function another favorite article takes an in-depth look at how playwright John Lilly the author of the gender bending gala Thea regularly subverted tropes about unmarried women in his work not all the articles in the collection of direct insists to the project and I skim through a lot of them in the first half of September after that I’ve decided it’s time to delve into some of the foundational works on the history of gender and sexuality that often get mentioned in passing but that have been languishing on my to be read list for years books and articles like joan cabins the meanings of sex difference the middle-ages Judith Butler’s gender trouble Carol and in Shaw’s getting medieval Aryan riches compulsory heterosexuality in the lesbian existence Thomas liquors making sex john Boswell’s several books on same-sex topics in history and Michel Foucault’s the history of sexuality I confess I’m not looking forward to slogging through that one but it’s one of the texts that everyone is in conversation with I’ll be leavening those with some shorter articles just to keep my brain from breaking and I haven’t picked which books I’ll start with but expect some serious philosophy on the blog for a while and as I record this I have just put in an order at Amazon for copies of all the books in the list that I haven’t previously bought this month’s author guest will be Olivia wait who’s recent release the lady’s guide to celestial mechanics has taken the FF historical readership by storm this month’s podcast essay is still to be determined I hope I don’t make a habit of deciding essay topics at the last minute if I get my act together I may do an Anne Lister’s show now that I’ve finally caught up to the rest of the world and watching Gentleman Jack but that will depend on lining up the guests I want to include and honestly I may need to spread my Lister coverage over several shows and now it’s time for the recent new and forthcoming FF historical x’ we start off with for july publications falling in the early modern period under the microscope by kim finis from signature books caught my attention sufficiently that it’s in my to be read pile though longtime listeners know that’s no guarantee of when I’ll get to it as a bull Chetwood the scholar is invisible to her society and in history she does not exist only as a Belle the dutiful wife is appreciable ignoring conventions as dangerous and following her heart has consequences is she willing to pay the price extracted for her transgressions it is England in 1677 public writing is a male pursuit science is a pastime of the privileged and religion dominates the culture the use of microscopes has begun to reveal previously unknown worlds of miniature life Ambrose Chatwood eccentric natural philosopher and his wife Isabel a gifted botanical illustrator are on the brink of important scientific discoveries the crucial role Isabel plays and her husband’s work as a silent one and Ambrose’s guilt-ridden at treating her as if a colleague when Ambrose forces as a bell to take on the lady’s companion Thomasine dance be his unwanted action impacts upon their lives in an anticipated ways in a society that considers women to be without intellect and nonconformity can mark a woman as a witch a naive SML is ultimately confronted with the ugly outcomes of the choices that she makes Thomasine a younger woman with frivolous fancies sees her removal from London to rural Chelsea and indignity she has no desire to live amongst bumpkins denied of easy access to the attractions of a burgeoning restoration city it does not take her long to connect with the villages noble residents but she finds something unexpected in Chelsea that although disorienting anchors her to the Chatwood estate worlds apart self published by Stein Willard is set in the mid 18th century though the description fells somewhat loosely moored in time lady Tia Bellingham the Duchess of Kampfer wanted the near impossible to stop the centuries-old exploitation of the poor and downtrodden but the darling of the English Court could not be seen as one behind the ruination of her peers and those most likely to make themselves guilty of such immoral practices she realized that she needed help more specific she needed the help of Britain’s most dangerous and elusive criminal the maverick the dark decaying slums of London were where OSS felt most comfortable borne a secret and raised in secret it wasn’t difficult to hide her true self in a place where no one would come looking as the feared outlaw the Maverick she ruled the underworld with an iron fist her justice Swift lethal and her quest to protect the innocent and destitute it’s only when the captivating Duchess of Kemper came knocking that Oasis found there were certain depths to her that only the blonde beauty could access beggars flip by Benny Lawrence from bedazzled ink is gonna get the benefit of the doubt from me as historical novel simply because I loved her book the ghost of the Machine so much but this sequel to shell game feels a bit more like a secondary world fantasy as far as I can tell from the description Darren socially awkward exiled noblewoman turned pirate queen and Lynne sorta kinda Darrin slave girl sorta kinda Darren’s life coat and altogether the bossiest backseat helmsman that ever set foot on a pirate ship are at it again Darren receives a message delivered by her dying brother pleading for her to warn their father about a traitor meaning darren has to return home to torus an isle and to the father who keeps sending assassins after her Lynne thinks it’s crazy insane and obviously certain death for Darren and it’s not overly happy about the idea as usual Lynne is right and chaos ensues this is the second time in the last half year that a non-english book is turned up in my search that looks relevant enough to include their resolutions to Olymp a lesbian historic novel is authored by a writer’s collective that goes by the pen name of the Giardini disciple if you’re interested in lesbian historical fiction in French it looks like they have a couple other titles out unlike the previous time I had a non English title I won’t attempt to give the original version of the cover copy but you can find it in the transcript 1789 Olymp is a daughter of the people a cabinetmaker indifferent to love Adelaide is an idle rich young aristocrat known unconditionally as a lesbian the chance of fate will bring them together between love doubts fears and the violent whirlwind of the revolution their story will be far from simple a beautiful story of love with a hint of unveiled eroticism the lesbian talk show relies on support the support of you our listeners the support of those who like and review our show on their favorite podcast app the support of our patrons on patreon and the support of our sponsors we hope you’ll continue to enjoy and support the lesbian talk-show have you ever noticed how sometimes a whole bunch of books will come out with similar themes not inspired by some pop culture property but just by coincidence while I was putting together this list I came across three separate titles that have the premise Robin Hood but a lesbian the last July book is one of those outlaw a lesbian retelling of Robin Hood self published by Knopf Murphy pride ambition blood with a single shot a legend is born Robin fitzwarren daughter to the Baron of Locksley only wants to support her mother while her father is off on crusade but when she enters an archery tournament in disguise she encouraged the wrath of the sheriff of Nottingham’s arrogant nephew Theo now not only is her own life threatened but the lives of her family as well will she flee from danger or fulfill her destiny stand up to injustice and become the fabled outlaw of legend Robin Hood there’s one additional August book to add this month Prairie Hearts by JD Marsden from sapphire books in the 1820s Kentuckian Carrie Fletcher migrates with her brother and his family to central Illinois where she intends to continue to grow medicinal herbs and to be a healer Carrie loves being the spinster aunt to her nieces and nephews taking care of her herbs making calls on sick pioneers and farming with her brother but shunning marriage and motherhood and donning her unique style of mannish dress for farm work rouse some who questioned her womanhood when they arrived the unending labor of Cabin building and clearing the prairie grasses for crops required they trade assistance with other pioneers one of the first neighbors to call on them is Emma Reynolds another herbalist healer and Midwife she and Carrie share herbs seeds and healing knowledge shortly after Emma’s father her sole relation dies from lung fever leaving a gap in her life the Carey’s friendship fills together the two pioneer women deal with the harsh realities of pioneering one man calls their healing potions evil and harasses them violently the to strengthen their bonds and develop deeper feelings as they fight for their lives and the lives of the neighbors they care for chem their newfound love endure the hardscrabble life of never-ending toil sickness injury hunger and death on the Prairie the first two september books are also set in the 19th century Bloomsbury Slate Rose a novel by Pen Pearson from chickadee prints books a poet in Edwardian London a woman struggling to let her voice be heard in 1894 sister Charlotte and Anne Mew take a solemn vow never to marry and never to pass on the family curse insanity the spinster Mew sisters descended to genteel poverty their mother on an invalid sofa am the painter in a menial job but Charlotte the poet will find immortality and unexpected love her path will require that she keeps secrets and makes sacrifices that may be too much even for Charlotte’s determined spirit for something entirely different we have the graphic novel stage dreams by Melanie Gilman from graphic universe in this rollicking queer at Western adventure acclaimed her Tunis Melanie Gilman puts the readers in the saddle alongside floor and grace a latina ‘kz outlaw and a trans run away as they team up to thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory when floor also known as the Toria stew ghost talk robs the stagecoach the graces used to escape her Georgia home the first thing on her mind is ransom but when the two get to talking about Flora’s plan to crash a Confederate gala and steal some crucial documents grace convinces floor to let her join in the heist the September books finish up with some later 20th century titles that Teeter on the edge of what I’d consider historical fiction in terms of era the first is somewhere along the way by Kathleen dolls from bold strokes books in the summer of 1980 Maxine Cooper moves from the Midwest to San Francisco with her gay best friend Chris where she hopes to find love and community but gay life in a big city is much more complicated than either of them ever expected life becomes a constant party and Max slides deep into alcohol and drugs she and Chris become estranged and when he contracts AIDS max doesn’t know how to bridge the gap between them shattered by Chris’s death max must decide how she is going to live her life can she forgive herself for abandoning him or will her guilt lead her down a path that guarantees destruction and her last book for this month’s list is from a mainstream publisher Taurus by Carolina D roberta’s from love in 1977 Uruguay a military government has crushed political dissent with ruthless force in an environment where citizens are kidnapped raped and tortured homosexuality is a dangerous transgression and yet romina Flocka anita Lavina spas and Malana five-can taurus women who sing somehow miraculously find one another and then together discover and isolated nearly uninhabited cape cobbler polonio which they claim as their secret sanctuary over the next 35 years their lives move back and forth between cabo polonio and montevideo the city they call home as they return sometimes together sometimes in pairs with lovers in tow or alone and throughout again and again the women will be tested by their families lovers society and one another as they fight to live authentic lives genre-defining novel in to Roberta’s masterpiece Kon torus is a breathtaking portrait a queer love community forgotten history and the strength of the human spirit and once timeless and groundbreaking contour us is a tale about the fire and all our souls and those who make it burn what am i reading given how busy my month was you might expect that there isn’t much of my personal reading list I finished penny Mikkel buries two wings to fly away and have binge watched the entire first season of Gentleman Jack as noted above I’m currently in the middle of Clara Dells near-future thriller The Hound of Justice the sequel to a study in honor both of them rien visioning Sherlock Holmes and dr. Watson is queer black women although I’ve suspended the asks a post segment as a regular feature I may revive it from time to time as sapelo soapbox for brief editorial items in this month I’d like to borrow her soapbox to talk about the myth that mainstream readers aren’t interested in stories about queer women or at least that it’s a myth in the genre that I’m most familiar with science fiction and fantasy earlier this month in The Guardian there was a book column on the highly specialized sub-genre of time-travel stories about lesbians in history in the past 12 months we’ve gotten the psychology of time-travel by Kate massacre yes the future of another timeline by Emily Nuits Alice Payne arrives and Alice Payne rides by Kate hurt failed and of course the column is a sneaky way for its author Amal al-mihdhar to mention the new release she wrote with Max Gladstone this is how you lose the time war mainstream historical fantasy is featuring queer women that I’ve enjoyed in the last year or so include Theodora glasses European travel for the monstrous gentlewoman Zhen chose the true Queen Molly tan sirs creatures of will and temper kr Sinatra Vera’s pillage II starting with the Tigers daughter Ellen clay Jess’s passing strange neesee shawls ever fair catherine Duckett’s miranda and blonde and no doubt others that have gotten lost in my reading lists I’m focusing on mainstream books not to make any distinction of quality but to point out that there is an eager market out there for stories with queer women a market that is sufficient to induce major publishers to make an investment in them if you are writing stories like this there are readers out there hungry for the sort of thing you’re writing but here’s the catch the books will compete for those eyeballs set an ambitious standard the writing is top-notch the plots are tight and intricate and the casts include an expansive range of identities that go beyond the simple category of lesbian fiction books that reach out to embrace a universe of readers all of whom want to be recognised as existing in the world of the books they read even when they aren’t the protagonists don’t let anyone tell you there’s no mainstream market for stories that feature lesbians but that market is looking for stories that reach beyond stock tropes and safely familiar plot lines the brass ring will go to those who reach for it I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the lesbian historic motif podcast if you want to follow up on anything we’ve covered see the show notes for links and to contact me with questions book announcements or topic suggestions if you enjoyed this podcast please rate it and subscribe on iTunes stitcher or pod bean and consider supporting our patreon and if you’re on Facebook check out the lesbian talk show chat group [Music]