It’s been a long time since I have read a book written by Karin Kallmaker (last one was “Love by the numbers” which also, was a beautiful read), I have almost forgotten how her writing “feels” like and how the characters she creates come to life and amaze souls in a different way than any other writer does.
When you start reading, you get distracted by the characters and especially by Rayann’s despair after her break-up with her girlfriend, Michelle, whom has cheated on her and Rayann found out that they were having sex in her bed and her sheets, yet she reminds herself that she left a beautiful career to become sort of a lesbian housewife, entertained by Michelle, Rayann is a wood carver.
Rayann and her mother, Ann Germaine had a difficult relationshipespecially since her father died, her mother tried to push forward her dreams through Rayann and wanted her to become a commercial graphician, yet after she met Michelle, Rayann and her mother have lost all hope as Rayann gave up her dreams. And now, she lost everything, her love, Michelle, her dreams, and she just wanted to get away from Michelle and didn’t wanted to go home to her mother’s house. She travelled by tram and train until she found a shelter for women and none could really help but one woman whom wanted nothing and none, but to pay some dues from her youth when she wasn’t able to fight for the women’s rights, pains or lesbianism for the sake of her son, Teddy, so that she could hold onto him and never lose him nor his love and attachment, not even for Christina, her love, that was Louisa.
Louisa’s love was gone now, along with Christina dead and Teddy having afamily, she only had her bookstore and her friend Danny, hiding her own self from her son and from the world, no lesbian book had any place in her bookstore, but some old Renee Vivien poetry hidden somewhere back the shelves.
Rayann took the challenge and agreed to work in Louisa’s bookstore in order to pay for the rent and food, yet she has never expected herself to fall in love with Louise, a woman twice her age, who could actually be her mother. Louisa amazed her in a way none else ever did : her silence, her knowing glance, her hands – Louisa’s hands were her wildest dream, everything about Louisa bewildered her and attracted her even more, evermore, her dark eyes, her beautiful body, her skin, her dark hair with gray strands and combs, she became infatuated and so life goes on until one beautiful night when Louisa made real love to Rayann, the sensation and the reality of it never left her, yet Louisa never wanted to influence Rayann’s life, not being able to take her own decisions for loving a woman half her age. So, Rayann, unexperienced and left, somewhow, in the air, filled her spare time with Zoraida, a beautiful latin lover lesbian butch, yet she was not Louisa.
I loved the way this novel was set, as we see the action through Rayann’s eyes, loving an elder woman to the edges of fading like a rare flower into an unknown land from nowhere, calling a love that would last into her heart forever.
I have to confess that, I was in love with Louisa, and I wished I could find her sight of the story, the way her heart skipped a beat whenever Rayann was around, what she had found in Rayann, why did she let Rayann go off with Zoraida, I wanted to know so much more about Louisa, yet I was pleased in imaging it by myself, which was more fun and even more inspiring, maybe it was a writer’s trick.
Those moments when Louisa had treated Rayann as a child, as a friend, anything else but her lover, were most entertaining, as the reader knew it was the way Louisa’s experience with her son knew best, knew more of youth, yet knew nothing of Rayann’s love and addiction, nothing like her son’s, Teddy’s, but everything her heart wanted to hear and fell, and that her mind sent away.
I loved how Rayann grew up, evolved by leaving Zoraida and she knew that none would ever love her as Louisa would. And after some time and even more struggling to keep away her lust and passion for Luisa, giving into work and her passion for commercial marketing, she set herself somehow on the second place. And when she could not take it anymore and confessed to Louisa she believed she and Danny were lovers and died of jealousy, she could see the struggle that went through Louisa, not wanting to lose Rayann’s love, and not wanting to lose her son’s love, as Danny told Rayann, just made it all clear now and Rayyan knew she was desperately and deeply in love with Louisa.
Rayann’s relationship with her mother improved somehow as Ann met Louisa nad found her amazing, and Rayann met Jim her mother’s fiancée, yet when her mother found out Louisa was her lover, her daughter’s lover, that was her age, was the turning point, yet Louisa was on the edge of her wisdom and found a way to settle things down, yet she had to tell Teddy just how much she loved Rayann and how many decades she has been hiding her lesbian love for Christina and now, she wanted all transparent for Rayann.
And she does it, all right, yet it takes some time for her son to swallow the deep gulp, yet he will and they will be a big happy family at Ann Germaine and Jim’s wedding in Greece.
I loved Louisa’s story : she hid her lesbian desires and her love for Christina, just for Teddy’s sake, her son’s love valued gold in times when in America being lesbian was a drill, 50’s and 60’s when she didn’t dare to take action , but maybe getting arrested for some lesbian thoughts, yet nothing of lesbian liberalism, afraid that the social services could take Teddy away from her.
Now, she sees through Teddy and Rayann, nothing alike but their age, yet her son was still a boy needing his mother, while Rayann was a young woman, much more adult than her age showed, who loved her and believed in her love and their freedom to love each other forever.
And so, they did. I loved this novel so much, one of the few lesbian novels about a younger and an older woman who deeply fall in love with each other, despite their age difference, their experience and their love for baseball.
Louisa’s strength, her sensitiveness and her sweetness conquered my senses and made me want her just as much as Rayann must have wanted her, adored her, loved her.
I am in awe, no quotes, thank you, Karin Kallmaker.