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Thursday, 5 May 2011

Book Review: The Love of Good Women by Isabel Miller

I came across this book after Brighton Blogger reviewed it back in February for the LGBT Reading Challenge 2011 (which is what I'm reviewing it for now!). I liked the idea of the book so much that I ordered it immediately. Although it wasn't completely what I was expecting I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Isabel Miller was the pseudonym used by Alma Routsong, an American born in 1924. The Love of Good Women was first published in 1986 and tells the story of Gertrude and Milly, women married to two brothers, Earl and Barney respectively. It's set as WWII is wrapping up and essentially follows Gertrude as she unexpectedly finds independence from her domineering husband. That journey takes her to a factory where she makes friends along with her own money. The story is a typical belated coming-of-age narrative, but the one thing that really set it apart for me was Miller's tremendous use of dialogue.

Gertrude and Milly came alive for me through the dialogue. I realise that's how fiction should work but I was surprised by the ease of slipping into 1940s American speech for me. Occasionally it jars but I think it's supposed to. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Gertrude and her factory friends and the way all the characters sounded unique and yet not unrealistic. Miller's narrative method is very specific, focusing on individual scenes and details which add depth to the overall piece. The book is only a few hundred pages long but I felt as though I'd lived with the characters for much longer than that. It's split into three books, one from Milly's perspective sandwiched in between two from Gertrude's, and has a foreword and postscript from Milly.

On the very first page, Miller had me, as Milly expresses something most people, gay or straight, can relate to: "But Milly had learned to get the good of love, the wonderful leap and sweetness in the chest during the little while when it wasn't committably insane to hope." Come on... who doesn't relate?

Amazon page for The Love of Good Women is here.

I read this for the LGBT Reading Challenge 2011 (see sidebar for details).


Irene Palfy said...

This sounds very, very interesting! ;") (I added it to my wish list.)

The LGBT Reading Challenge is a lot of fun - I enjoy it very much!

Thank you for leaving a comment on my film blog - I now added a poll. - I never did that before, but maybe it'll be fun to watch if anyone cares at all.. ;") (You did - and I could hug you for that!)

Btw. "Aimee & Jaguar" was great - it is one of my favourite books, too. Same goes for "M├Ądchen in Uniform". :")

Thank you for following my blog - and actually reading the entries!! ;")

Have a great weekend!

CharmedLassie said...

Honestly, I love your blog posts. I should really comment a bit more. I do like the fact that the reading challenge has introduced me to some great bloggers along with great books. It's definitely been a good investment this year!

Irene Palfy said...

Aww - and again I could hug you!! ;") Thank you very, very much!

I have the same feeling about the challenges.. ;")

Btw. : "Bedlam: London and Its Mad" by Catharine Arnold sounds intriguing to me! I hope it's a good read.