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Tue, Oct. 11th, 2011, 11:37 am

Let's talk about books for a second, shall we?


I must admit I was sort of despairing of finding good lesbian fiction (I'm still looking for good contemp stuff, as the best I've been able to manage so far is "meh, okay"; I even splashed out on one of the really expensive seven-quid ones for the Kindle as an experiment and OH GOD WORST IDEA EVER MARY-SUE WEREWOLVES AND PSYCHIC ORGASMS EVERYWHERE. But that's a story for another day.); I've read around a bit. I was given a Jeannette Winterson book by a friend of my mother's when I first came out called Written on the Body, which had an interesting premise but, well, that's about the only thing I can remember about it. A few years later I read Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, if only so that I could say I had, and...yeah, that didn't really do it for me either. So, out of some hideously mistaken preconception, I put off reading Sarah Waters for a long time. Then I found Fingersmith on Kindle for about two pounds, thought "well, I'm about to go on holiday and I know some people think it's good, so..." and...


...yeah, that's pretty much one of my favourite books ever now.

You guys, you guys, do you know how long it has been since a book managed to actually genuinely take me by surprise with a plot twist? I'm not saying I've read them all or anything because hey, clearly I haven't! but I can...normally sort of tell what direction a story is going to take. Which isn't a bad thing at all (there's more to a good plot than hitting me with a bolt from the blue), and it doesn't mean that all books are predictable; it just means that normally when a plot twist happens, even if it wasn't quite what I thought would happen, normally I'll look at the plot twist and go "huh. Interesting" and keep reading.

I mean, like, okay. I've also been reading the A Song Of Ice And Fire series lately (yeah, yeah, I'm late to the party) and...okay. I'm enjoying those books. I've finished the first two, and they keep me reading in spite of the vague ideological problems I sometimes have with bits of the storyline. But...the Big Shock that comes about halfway through A Clash Of Kings, right? That didn't really surprise me. It was well-executed - for a few chapters there was plenty of room for reasonable doubt, and there were a few moments when I did think "did he actually - " but...ultimately, no. I looked at it and I thought "yeah, there's no way he would have done it like that. What does he think I am, some kind of assless freak? He's not going to kill off Bran and only ever give it offstage mentions. They're not really dead."

While I'm on the topic of A Song of Ice and Fire, yeah, that multiple-perspectives thing? That's going to get you into trouble eventually, George R.R. Martin. I mean, so far I'm still engaged in the story and you're pretty good at stopping each storyline abruptly enough that by the time I get to the next chapter in that perspective I remember where we were because I goddamn wanted you to carry on with that storyline in the first place and not cut to somewhere freaking else, but...just...be careful, yeah? You're going to have trouble writing an ending if you have to bring together seventeen million character perspectives. I'm saying this to you because I care.

Back to Sarah Waters! That summer reading book is the first time I can ever remember that a book has made me go WHAT NO I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU JUST OH MY GOD HOW DID YOU WHY DID YOU HOW DID YOU I LOVE THIS FREAKING BOOK.

Which might, of course, mean that I'm just naive. But don't ruin my childish joy, okay?

Anyway, yeah, I love Fingersmith. I love Waters' writing, as well; the way it was written kind of made it feel like I was reading Oliver Twist with more compelling characters and a cunning linguistic element. I've since chewed my way through Tipping The Velvet, which is also pretty good although not as good as Fingersmith (and, er, also, what's with the title? I mean, Tipping The Velvet is a perfectly fine title by all accounts, but having read the book I...I don't get it. The concept of "tipping the velvet" is brought up precisely once in the book, and that once lasts about two paragraphs and is never thought of or mentioned again.) and I might download The Night Watch. Mmm. Book love.

Anyway, I'm off to class. Feel free to, um, leave me recommendations for good lesbian fiction in the comments, classic or contemporary. Or just good books in general. (Please note that I will definitely give preference to books I can download on the Kindle; ordering paper books right now is not a luxury I have or can afford to acquire until about July next year, sadly.)

Tue, Oct. 11th, 2011 11:03 am (UTC)

If any SOIAF book will surprise you, it would be A Storm of Swords and I'll say no more on that front but give knowing looks to anyone reading this comment who knows of what I speak.

Wed, Oct. 26th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)

Finished it a few days ago - hugely enjoyable, but by the time we got to the big shocker scenes they didn't seem too unlikely. I mean, I'm not gonna say I saw everything coming, but it was more a sort of 'oh, we're doing that? ...I guess we are' feeling than an 'oh my WHAT HAVE YOU WHAT DID YOU NO WAY IN A MILLION YEARS DID I THINK YOU WOULD DO THAT' one.

Tue, Oct. 11th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)

Uh, I am actually feeling like I am the only lesbian who does not like Sarah Waters so much. I agree with you that Fingersmith is the best, but it failed to emotion me so much (and causes much arguments with my wife, who..almost worships that book).

Wed, Oct. 12th, 2011 04:30 am (UTC)

That's okay! I'm probably the only lesbian who doesn't like Jeannette Winterson :-)

I think the main reason I enjoyed Fingersmith so much is that it had the kind of storyline I really enjoyed and a writing style I really engaged with, so I was swept up on a ride that I liked the vast majority of. Sarah Waters does what she does very well, but if you don't like that, you probably won't enjoy her books no matter how well she writes them.

(I'd still tend to side with Margi, though. ;-))

Tue, Oct. 11th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)

Haha, I totally agree re the Dickens vibe. (Hmm, "the Dickens vibe". That sounds like some kind of Victoriana sex toy doesn't it? Lol. "Unbelievable twists guaranteed", etc, etc).