On the Shelf April 2019

In this episode of The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast Heather Rose Jones does On the Shelf April 2019 and episode in which she gives you an update on what the Lesbian Historic Motif Project has been doing.

Episode 33b

In this episode we talk about

  • Recent and upcoming publications covered on the blog
  • Announcing this month’s author guest, Molly Tanzer
  • New and forthcoming fiction:
    • The Huntress by Kate Quinn (William Morrow Paperbacks)
    • Sleight of Hand by Ilse V Rensburg aka Jason Hes (Sera Blue)
    • Robber Girl by S. T. Gibson (self-published)
    • A Vengeance of Spies: A WW2 Novella by Manda Scott (self-published)
    • Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan (self-published)
    • Liliana by Diana Robbins (self-published)
    • Die Frau des Zuckerhändlers by Nathalie C. Kutscher (Telegonos-Publishing)
    • No Man’s Chattel by Lee Swanson (self-published)
    • *S h e r l o c k i a n* Desdemona Valentina – A Femme Fatale Mystery – 1 (Desdemona
    • Valentina Mysteries) by S.L. Freake (self-published)
    • Today Dauphine Tomorrow Nothing by Saga Hillborn (self-published)
    • Love’s Portrait by Anna Larner (Bold Strokes Books)
    • The Cursed Heart by Bonnie Wormsley (Regal Crest Enterprises)
    • Gentleman Jack (Movie Tie-In): The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma (Penguin Books)
    • God’s Children by Mabli Roberts (Honno Press)
  • Ask Sappho: Eden asks “What’s the connection between ‘tomboy’ and ‘tommy’?”


Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online

Website: http://alpennia.com/lhmp
Blog: http://alpennia.com/blog
RSS: http://alpennia.com/blog/feed/


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


[Music] this is Heather Rose Jones with the 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 April 2019 no you aren’t imagining things this month’s on the shelf episode is airing the second Saturday of the month not the first Saturday horrors it’s all due to the timing of our 100th episode special last week a hundred episodes wow that would have been hard to imagine when I first started doing this podcast but then when I first started collecting materials for the lesbian historic motif project although I wasn’t calling it that yet I figured that it would be a short-term project because after all there wasn’t that much to be known about queer women in history right I think there’s a general lesson to be learned about the amount of what we currently know on a topic compared to the amount there is to be known maybe it’s on a personal level just because you personally aren’t aware of books on a particular topic or written by a particular group of people doesn’t mean they aren’t out there but the lessons also operates on a societal level just because we don’t currently have available information on the topic doesn’t mean it might not be out there to be discovered and some want more carefully just because information about a certain topic hasn’t survived directly doesn’t mean that understanding about it can’t be teased out of the material that has now don’t interpret that as me saying that everything and anything is possible in history and the absence of evidence for it means nothing that’s not what I mean at all but we need to look at the reasons for absences for erasers for gaps whether it’s a matter of what gets published in history books or of what and who gets published in current fiction don’t assume that if you can’t find a particular type of story to read that it’s because it isn’t being written the current fiction market is a maze of individual communities and ongoing discussions I can’t count the number of times I hear people begging why isn’t anyone writing X and then I turn around and see I want to keep writing X but everybody tells me it doesn’t sell before you take any of these impressions as fact reach out and listen broadly across the world of books you might hear some delightful things so what have we been discussing lesbian historic motif project blog lately in March the theme was mostly 19th century people with articles looking at author Eliza Lynn Linton who combined militantly reactionary social politics with some surprisingly sympathetic proto lesbian characters and her novels she’s a good example of looking beyond the superficialities to tease out an understanding of sexuality in the past another article looked at the sources that Anne Lister had for exploring and expressing her understanding of her own sexuality with the challenge to theories that see only explicit namings of identity as true representation in the past the article on Lord Byron’s sexuality was a bit disappointing given that it invoked the slang term tommy’s in the title I’m going to explore the history of that term in the asks a posed segment later the last of the March blogs and the April entry is don’t follow an identifiable theme this is the inevitable fallout of coming to the end of the set of articles pulled off jstor from the Journal of the history of sexuality having started off with almost 30 articles to consider it was fairly easy to find two Matic groups but now I’m left with the handful that didn’t fall into a convenient grouping another of suhara mares explorations of lesbian like figures in medieval Arabic literature a discussion of how the 12th century Renaissance examines gender categories a couple of meta commentaries on Carole and in Shaw’s book getting medieval sexuality is in communities pre and post modern which has pointed out to me that I really need to move that book up in my reading list an examination of secular clerical interactions around accusations of sodomy both male and female within the church and a look at gender crossing figures in medieval French romances I’ll be finishing up the last couple of articles from the journal of the history of sexuality in May and then it’s time to go back to tackling some of the books that have been calling my name speaking of which I have a couple new acquisitions for the blog one is a rainbow thread an anthology of queer Jewish texts from the first century to 1969 edited by Noam Sienna while the relative male and female representation in the collection is predictably unbalanced this is a topic I’ve been searching for material on for quite a while I’ve also received a review copy of precious and adore to the love letters of rose Cleveland and Evangeline Simpson Whipple 1890 to 1918 the 19th century is full of intriguing correspondence between romantic friends that would no doubt provide interesting reading in this case that interest rises to the level of academic attention and publication because Rose Cleveland was the sister of u.s. President Grover Cleveland it feels a bit odd to be offered review copies of work second use for the blog this is the second one I’ve received the other hasn’t been blogged yet though I reviewed it mind you I’m not receiving them personally because of the blog but rather through the lesbian review website it makes me wonder whether it would make sense to reach out to publishers about review copies in the future on the one hand if I find a book useful as a personal reference I really prefer to keep a hard copy on another hand this sort of nonfiction publication often comes with painfully highest price tags though I’m usually willing to pay it it’s an interesting thought but I’m so backlogged in material already on my shelves to cover this month’s author guest is Molly tan sir who writes weird fantasies the straddle the line between historical and paranormal sometimes with a touch of romance we’ll be talking about a couple of her books vermilion and creatures of will and temper as well as discussing her research this month’s essay will return to my mini-series on historic models and categories of gender and sexuality this time I’ll be looking at the real-life stories of some specific people who stepped outside the norms for gender or sexuality of their day and what the reactions of those around them can tell us of what those norms were when someone doesn’t fit neatly into a cultures gender and sexuality categories what features of their life are considered most important in trying to classify them how does their culture try to restrict or change their life to better fit those categories and how do their reactions to those attempts give us information about their own internal identity when considering people in the past there can be a temptation to take one of two extreme positions either to try to match them up with our modern categories to claim them for a specific modern identity or to throw our hands up and say we have no way of knowing how they would identify both extremes tend to ignore the admittedly scanty evidence we have of their own testimony in lives we may not be able to know for certain how they understood themselves but we can make approximations and when we try to fit them neatly into the boxes we’re familiar with how is that better than what their own contemporaries tried to do them I hope you’re enjoying these philosophical musings I may have one more show in the series before returning to more biographical shows time for new and forthcoming books I’ll start with some books that came out back in February that I’ve only just found out about I wouldn’t have known about this first one except for a readers mentioned that it includes a lesbian relationship the Huntress by Kate Quinn from William Morrow paperbacks starts with the world war two story of the Russian night witches female bomber pilots who have been captivating the imagination of a number of historical authors lately the book’s blurb doesn’t mention the same-sex content so I don’t know how extensive it is or which of the characters mentioned here is involved bold and fearless nina Markova has dreamed of flying when the Nazis attacked the Soviet Union she risks everything to join the legendary night witches an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans when she is stranded behind enemy lines Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderous known as the Huntress and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg trials British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter yet one target eludes him a vicious predator known as the Huntress to find her the fierce disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive the brazen cocksure Nina but a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina forced themselves to confront it growing up in post-war Boston eighteen year old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer why her long widowed father unexpectedly comes home with a new fiancee Jordan is thrilled but there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken german widow certain that danger is lurking jordan begins to delve into her new stepmothers past only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear in this immersive heart-wrenching story Kate Quinn eliminates the consequences of war on individual lives and the price we paid to seek justice and truth there are a few other February books that I’m only now hearing about sleight of hand by Elsevier ensberg aka Jason has published by Sarah blue sets a supernatural story in the era between the two world wars destroy the magician’s destroy all unnatural New York City 1926 Demento a young magician with a sinister past becomes the target of a secret organization when a string of bizarre murders leaves the nation perplexed when Cavanaugh an agent of the October house is sent to investigate the brutal crimes she poses as an eager magician’s assistant wanting nothing more than to relish Demento his demise what both ladies discovered not only shakes the very fabric of the realities it could bring about the end of the world as their journeys take them through the crumbling nickel empire that is Coney Island to the ritzy ballrooms of the American upper crust glamorous theater halls and the soulless alleyways of Hell’s Kitchen one of my favorite FF fairy tale retellings takes on hands Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen St Gibson has tackled the same material in the self-published robber girl the specific historic era of the setting isn’t clear from the cover copy in a Sweden racked by war and haunted by folk stories so dark they can only be spoken of in whispers helping has been raised by her brigand father to steal whatever treasure catches her eye when her men ambush a strange girl on the road with hair pale as death and a crow perched on her shoulder healthing cannot resist bringing home a truly unique prize genuine which drawn irresistibly into the other woman’s web pelvic soon learns of Garrity’s reason for walking the icy border roads alone to find the queen who lives at the top of the world and kill her anyone else would be smart enough not to believe a children’s story but healthing is plagued by enchantments of her own and struggles to guard the sins of her past while growing closer to the other woman as Christmas tide gives way to the thin veiled days when ghosts are at their most vengeful the two women will find themselves on a journey through forests and sam’l ends to a final confrontation that will either redeem them or destroy them entirely my usual Amazon keyword search for lesbian historical ‘he’s turned up a vengeance of spies a world war ii novella by manda scott which is self-published although the cover copy doesn’t confirm the search term results i’ve read a number of man to scott’s previous mysteries and they often have queer female characters so I’m willing to trust on this one My dear Elsa you are grieving and I am sorry but there are things you need to know because this is not only a confession it is an accusation so in case you get no further here as the bald fact I killed your grandfather war hides many secrets and some of them are better kept but the secret of Hut 10 was never that kind it could have been leaked and a life would have been saved one man could have made that difference he didn’t and vengeance has taken 40 years to catch up with him set in the same world as a treachery of spies the month of March gives us books from a variety of time periods a delightfully surprising entry into the field comes from Courtenay Milan in the self-published Victorian novella mrs. Martin’s incomparable adventure this is part of an ongoing family saga series but can be read independently mrs. Bert Rees Martin a widow some 73 years young has kept her youthful ish appearance with the most powerful of home remedies daily doses of spite regular baths of man tears and refusing to give so much as a single damn about her terrible nephew then proper correct atmosphere boo shops a sprightly young thing of nine and 60 crashes into her life the terrible nephew is living in her rooming house and Violetta wants him gone mrs. Martin isn’t about to start giving dams not even for someone as intriguing as Miss Violetta but she hatches another plan to make her nephew sorry to make miss Violetta smile and to have the finest adventure of all time if she makes terrible men angry and wins the hand of a lovely lady in the process those are just added bonuses Diana Robbins has put out Liliana a self-published novel set in late 19th century Hawaii I can’t tell from the cover copy how the book handles the rather serious issues of colonialism at that period given that were offered an upper-class white post onion as our viewpoint character Liliana historical novel set in the year 1891 is the journey of Lillian Baldwin a woman whose humble behavior is astounding for a lady so breathlessly beautiful her passion for the Hawaiian Islands catapults her into a brave decision to leave Boston for the paradise she has only experienced through literary tales it is there she meets an educated handsome Hawaiian woman the secrecy in which they must live is ultimately compromised with unimaginable consequences usually these book listings stick to English language works but the following title popped up in my search and doesn’t appear to have an English translation I thought it looked interesting enough to include forgive my dreadful accent in German the book is defraud to sucker handlers by Natalie C Kutcher from telegonus publishing the following is the German cover copy baby vintage Laban St Helier Coquet it on the am it einen growl Simon Mann Lexie in golden calf ik doc done ratted the board Albus it’s orangeade ear Laban sufficient in Anglophone frauen and state Meryl smurfin shaft assessed I never abundant height DT for gate ah solace VC Contin shown bald uber slag and 60 rag Nessa Undine full bench fear failure slinked Bailey of gaffar velour leisa not america sorry a rough english translation might be bailey winters life is hell chained in marriage to a horrible man she lives in a golden cage then brothel owner Jade’s saves her life between the very different women there arises something more than friendship it is a bond that goes deeper than anything they knew soon events overtake them and a momentous mistake forces bailey on a dangerous journey to America no man’s chattel self-published by Leigh Swanson steps outside the more popular times and settings for lesbian historical the thought of trading her subservient role in her father’s home for that of being the dutiful wife of someone she had never met caused her to shudder with revulsion no she thought to herself what I crave is the opportunity to adventure across the sea to behold strange and wondrous sights far beyond the city walls of Lubich to do that even once would be almost worth submitting herself to a loveless marriage based solely on familial advantage but not quite she had been it to herself for if there was one thing of which Christina Cole was certain it was that she wanted her independence even more than adventure yet these can only be childish dreams for the daughter of a wealthy merchant in 14th century lubic Germany even at 16 years old Christina grudgingly accepts her existence is to be shaped and limited by the men who do and will control her life when unexpected tragedies befall her family however she is presented with an unlikely opportunity to at last become her own person the freedom of her new life is fraught with peril as she attempts to succeed in a role for which she is ill prepared all the while keeping secrets that if exposed will certainly bring shame financial ruin and perhaps even death no man’s chattel is an exhilarating coming-of-age novel set in the medieval commercial centers of Lubich and London England it is not so much a story of the societal norms of the era as of one woman’s struggle to defy them the next book looks like something of a romp and has a rather awkwardly complicated title Sherlockian Desdemona Valentina fatale mystery number one Desdemona Valentino mysteries self-published by SL freak if you’re reading along in the transcript yes the very odd letter spacing and punctuation is part of the official title join sapphic private detective civilian consultant to Scotland Yard Desdemona Valentina with her colleague and moon-eyed friend on their adventures while sleuthing and detecting hardened yet Uppercross jewel thieving sexy if criminal Eden Benedict can Graham Valentina’s colleague keep her out of the cat house long enough to serve on solve the case this girl’s got an appetite for solving crime and almost anything in a skirt get in on the blackmailing between a closeted lesbian princess marrying for money and freedom and the cross-dressing that some are driven to to get ahead in a man’s world of 1888 London England I have to confess I have something of a weakness for the late 17th century so I’d be tempted to check out this next book if I could find a way to buy an ePub version today Duffing tomorrow nothing self published by saga he’ll burn France 1696 Adelaide of Savoy is only 10 years old when she arrives at the glittering court of louis xiv to be married off to the Kings grandson the Duke de Bourgh Godin eager to please and charmingly youthful she soon enchants both the aging monarch and the nobles but it turns out her grand marriage is not everything she hoped for as she grows older Adelaide discovers that rivalries and twisted conflicts lurk beneath the glamorous surface of Versailles Europe is rumbling the most powerful nations are on the verge of bloody war the people of France are divided the commoners live in squalor while the elite surround themselves with decadence Colette the daughter of a paint craftsman has escaped her abusive home to become a servant of Versailles when she encounters Adelaide both girls think they might have found love at last but what could be the consequences of such a forbidden relationship 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 moving on to April books we have a cross time story love’s portrait by Anna learner from bold strokes books newly appointed art curator Molly good is committed to diversifying her museum’s collection when Georgina right the museum’s aloof benefactor asks for Molly’s help in identifying the provenance of a 19th century portrait of social activist Josephine Brancaster Molly welcomes the opportunity even if it means spending time with a standoffish financier but passion soon flare as the women uncovered the heartbreaking story of doomed lesbian love behind the watercolor painted by Josephine’s lover edith hewitt as their loved blossoms molly is determined to display Edith’s portrait of Josefina to tell their story in the museum but she needs the influential Georgina to help convince the board when an unforeseen twist in the paintings Providence forces Georgina to confront her own painful past will history repeat itself or can Molly and Georgina’s love prevail the burgeoning field of lesbian pirate novels gets an addition from Bonnie Wormsley in the curse at heart from regal crest the precise date and setting of the story is unclear from the cover copy Katherine tanner is the captain of the pirate ship the widow which browsed the seas by night preying upon innocent ships with her faithful Tiger companions Aida by her side katie boards a ship one night with her crew to find something unexpected a young blonde woman held captive in a filthy cell she frees the young woman and brings her aboard the widow katie soon realizes she has a strange attraction to the young woman whose name is anna when the ship makes port the next day Katie thinks Hanna will leave she is secretly relieved when Hannah decides to join her crew and allows the young woman to stay with her in her quarters as the mutual attraction between the continues to grow will Katie and Hanna be able to overcome their pasts and learn to trust and love one another there’s a tie-in novel for the upcoming BBC miniseries about an Lister titled gentlemen check the reel and Lister by Anne Choma published by Penguin Books this book and the series appear to be unrelated to the 2018 book of the same title by Angela she died lip translated by Katie Derbyshire when I talked in my blog about there being something of an analyst or industry going on these days these multiple publications are the sort of evidence I’m working from an Lister was extraordinary fearless charismatic and determined to explore her lesbian sexuality she forged her own path in a society that had no language to define her she was a landowner an industrialist and prolific diarist whose output has secured her legacy as one of the most fascinating figures of the 19th century Gentleman Jack the real and Lister follows and from her crumbling ancestral home in Yorkshire to the glittering courts of Denmark as she resolves to put past heartbreak behind her and find yourself a wife this book introduces the real gentleman Jack featuring unpublished journal extracts decrypted for the first time by series creator Sally Wainwright and writer and Choma I’ve been trying to figure out how I can get a hold of the miniseries to review without having to subscribe to the BBC get cable channel I may have to make friends with someone who watches TV more than I do this next book sounds intriguing ly different in setting God’s children by mably Roberts is published by hona Press Kate Marston nurse intrepid adventurer Saviour of the leopards or devious manipulator immoral and dishonest as she lies on her deathbed visited by the ghosts of her past who should we believe Kate or those who accuse her of duplicity memory is a fickle thing recollections may be frozen in time or distorted by the mirror of wishful thinking Kate’s own story is one of incredible achievements illicit love affairs and desperate longing those four accusers paint a very different portraits of a woman determined on fame and fortune the reader navigates a narrative as fractured as the Siberian ice skate crosses in search of a cure for leprosy and as beautiful as rose her lost love as the full picture emerges of a life lived when women were not expected to break the mold well that’s it for this month’s book listings if you have an upcoming release or know of one that you think I may not stumble over on my own drop the blog a note and let me know I’m always trying to think of new little regular features I can include in the on the Shelf show and it occurred to me that I could let listeners know what queer historical stories I’ve read recently of course this means I’ll expose myself if I go through a reading slump I tried to review everything I read but if you’re interested in those thoughts check out my blog I won’t be doing detailed reviews here just mentioning titles so what have I’ve been reading in the last month or so first off was an anthology rainbow bouquet intended by Farrah Mendelsohn from manifold press this collection of queer stories includes both male and female protagonists in about half the stories have historic settings it’s a recent release and is probably a good introduction to some of the authors that manifold press publishes I also sift through the brand new novella mrs. Martin’s incomparable adventure by the well known historical romance author Courtney Malan which was mentioned in the new book segment although Malad has included some lesbian or lesbian coded background characters in previous books I think this is her first foray into centering a story on a female couple I just finished reading Miranda in Milan the historical fantasy novella by last month’s author guest Catherine Tucket and I have recently started reading the true Queen by zensho who will be appearing on a future podcast interview what historical stories have you been enjoying lately this month’s asks a flow question is from Eden on Facebook who asks what’s the history of the slang term Tommy for a lesbian and how is it connected to tomboy this is an excellent question if you’re familiar with the modern use of tomboy to mean a girl who behaves in ways stereotypically associated with boys especially in enjoying active outdoor pursuits then it might seem natural to associate tomboy with the image of a young butch lesbian but the connection if there is one is somewhat more muddled in fact in the written record tombery has a much older lineage than Tommy in the sexual sense using the oxford english dictionary as my source in the mid 16th century we find tomboy used to mean a rude or boisterous boy as in the quote is all your delights and joy and whisking and ramping abroad like a tomboy but not long after the earliest known application to men we find it used for women meaning a boisterous woman as in the following example from 1579 st. Paul meaneth that women must not be impudent they must not be tomboys to be short they must not be unchaste and more specifically it means a woman who behaves like a romping boisterous boy so a girl who behaves in masculine ways especially in a wild uncontrolled manner this sense appears continuously up to the present I know that I was called a tomboy as a child for enjoying things like climbing trees and preferring pants to skirts there seems to be a connection here with the use of Tom for a generic male person or animal much the same way that another common male named John gets used from the generic man but a tomboy isn’t simply a generic boy but when you ask characteristics associated with an uncontrolled masculinity and the transfer of the term to women again emphasized behavior that was considered both masculine and uncontrolled curiously the oxford english dictionary has about eight different senses for the word tommy but none of them are the definition of female homosexual one could imagine several possible explanations for this perhaps they considered it a slang word rather than what an ordinary use or perhaps the compilers of the dictionary were uncomfortable with the sexual implications in fact there is documented evidence that the compilers of the oxford english dictionary deliberately excluded language about female homosexuality I even had linked about this in the show notes the first edition of the dictionary didn’t even include the word lesbian at all and it was deliberately excluded fortunately we can turn to other sources than the dictionary to find clear examples of Tommy indicating sexuality the earliest known clearly sexual example is from an English poem published in 1773 that reads in part woman with woman Act the manly part and kiss and press each other to the heart unnatural crimes like these my satire vex I know a thousand Tommy’s amongst the sex in that same decade a satirical poem addressed to sculptor and de mer made extensive reference to Sappho and her homosexual proclivities calling her the first Tommy the world has upon record in a context that makes it clear the term is equivalent to lesbian I can’t find clear evidence for how long the term was in common use Sarah Waters uses Tom in the same sense in her Victorian novels but it would take a more extensive search through obscure literature to create a full map of the words usage in any event the connection between Tommy meaning lesbian and tomboy is unclear except that they likely both derived from using the common male personal name Thomas to stand for generic masculinity and thus to label gender transgressive women 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 read 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]