“High October” by Elena Graf is the first book in the Hobbs Series
The meaning of the title : High October is the period during Maine autumn when it’s really warm like an Indian summer when it’s warm enough to walk without a jacket, at least this is what the old Mainers call it and it can be celebrated in the Acadia National Park, when at one point the main character travel.
A second chances mature lesbian love romance and drama, “High October” portraits how the two main characters Liz and Maggie have evolved professionally and emotionally, how they still have feelings for each other, how can this chance by faith can grow into at least friendship and how love can overcome flaws, disease, passing of time.
The location of the book is mainly set in Hobbs, Maine
Why is a 40 years after reconciliation credible, especially that the characters are now in their 60’s?
Simple. The event that caused their reconciliation happened by chance.
Liz is a family doctor in Hobbs, Maine.
Maggie is an actress who plays a part that has brought her in Hobbs, Maine.
She has a contusion at her ankle during the performance and Liz is asked to help her. So she does and even more, as always, Liz offers her home so that Maggie can heal in peace, not in a hotel.
Also, the story becomes even more credible, because of their age, they are grown up women, with pasts, starting with their year of happiness as lovers and college roommates, their past romances : Liz had a 15 years relationship with Jenny, another female doctor and Maggie married a man, Barry and has two adopted daughters from Romania : Alina and Sophie.
Two parentheses here:
- (Alina is the Romanian use of a girl’s name of Slavic origin meaning “bright, beautiful”. Alina is one of the scores of global variations on the classic Helen, well used in Poland and Russia, and also heard in the Celtic and German cultures, as well as in the US., while Sofia was the Romanian use to the English Sophie , Sophia, also spelled Sofia, is a feminine given name, from Greek Σοφία, Sophía, “Wisdom”. Diminutive forms include Sophie and Sofie. The given name is first recorded in the beginning of the 4th century. It is a common female name in the Eastern Orthodox countries – source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophia_(given_name))
2. (Alina and Sophia were adopted from Romanian orphanages from during the communist regime before the 1990 during the Ceausescu era. Those places were horrible institution because the communist regime despised the people who didn’t fit into their doctrine. Americans and other countries’ citizens who came after the fall of the communist regime and adopted Romanian children from the orphanages are true angels of mercy, because those poor kids were only victims of poverty, and of a cruel regime’s policies. Elena Graf didn’t tell the whole horror story, but outlined the fact that one of the girls had serious psychotic episodes; the girl was on medication and sometimes she had panic attacks, because of the horrors she went through in that orphanage when she was only an innocent child – more on the story : https://www.theguardian.com/news/2014/dec/10/-sp-ceausescus-children and https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1990/10/05/2020-inside-romanian-orphanages/a3500283-4e5e-49a4-981a-c551a7926388/)
Maggie and Liz are two mature women, they understand differently now, after 40 years, the meaning of a soul mate, the regrets of time passing, of their lost love, what aging means.
They don’t play hide and seek, they want to know what they have missed about each other, they want to know how much deeper their feelings can grow and if they can become at least friends, or even more.
And, also, 40 years prior the society was different and it’s credible that Maggie was forced to leave Liz and marry a man, because of her parents’s Catholic beliefs regarding the fact that she was gay and their treats of ruining her future.
Liz was Maggie’s first love and Maggie was Liz’s first love.
Liz Stolz is 58 and she is a famous doctor who left her speciality : breast cancer and bought a family practice in Hobbs, Maine, because she needed a fresh start, be away from great hospitals and and she is almost sixty, so she doesn’t feel like being a surgeon anymore. And also she needed space from Jenny, her former girlfriend whom with she shares a house in Connecticut.
At 60, Maggie Fitzgerald (Krusik) is a divorced actress who still loves acting and for the purpose still lives in New York. She is also a mother of her two adopted daughters of Romanian origin and a grandmother to her granddaughter. She and Liz were college roommates and lovers. She decided then to tell her parents that she was gay and in love with Liz. They were strict Catholics and they thought being gay is a sin and treated not to pay for college and Maggie’s other future plans unless she leaves Liz and marry the perfect man foe her, Barry, who years later cheated on her and left to Florida. Then , there is a surprise that I didn’t expect in Maggie’s life , which I won’t spoil. Yet, again, she didn’t give up, she had another relationship with a man : Tom, who had also cheated on her. At least, she has daughters. She had tried for years to have a child, she went to numerous fertility clinics, without any luck, yet Alina and Sophia were the treasures of her life, all together with her granddaughter.
She plays a part that has taken her to Hobbs, Maine and because of an unfortunate event she falls and has a contusion on her ankle and she needs a medic’s intervention and then Liz comes to the rescue, they don’t really acknowledge each other until Maggie notices Liz’s name and then Liz sees Maggie’s and they realize who the other is and then Liz offers Maggie a place to stay, a room in her home, so that Maggie can heal better, rather than in a hotel room.
Maggie has hurt Liz in the past and Liz doesn’t know how to behave towards her, but she really wants to know more about Maggie’s life.
Maggie knows how much she has hurt Liz and understands Liz’s behavior: she stays away from Maggie, but Maggie suspects it’s just a form of self preservation and that Liz still has feelings for her, just as she has for Liz.
Liz is an amazing doctor and a caring human being, she is dedicated to rescue humans, yet when it comes to Maggie and personal feelings, she behaves more like of a doctor than of a lover, overthinks telling the truth due to the fear of causing pain (Liz’s German origins are set on display). She wants to understand Maggie, to befriend her and even more, yet there are many questions still left unanswered and her mother, Monica just puts fuel on the fire.
As an actress, Maggie reads people and understands their behavior more than anyone else, she sees between the lines and she understands she has never stopped loving Liz and can’t understand why she had wasted so much time without her. Maggie has many flaws : giving up on herself for so many times to her parents, to Barry, to Tom means that she always wanted to please others and wasn’t strong enough to fight for her true love, and, abandoning Liz meant a big gap in her soul, which seems full again only now, when she is with her again.
Even though they are in their sixties, their mothers, alive or dead, have so much influence on them, seems surreal, yet it’s true, and they have to overcome them, also.
This is a slow burn romance, but with so many events, that treat the thin emotional connection they have now, so it’s hard to imagine what comes next in line for them.
I loved the setting in Hobbs, Maine, the author described so beautifully. Liz’s and Maggie’s surroundings that I felt I was almost there.
The language was great.
I also liked Liz’s and Maggie’s sex talks and Liz’s and Jenny’s banter.
I absolutely recommend Liz’s and Maggie’s story in “High October” by Elena Graf because it is a great book, not simply a romance, but a drama, a different type of plot, different characters with flaws, with pasts and regrets, yet strong to evolve even at sixty and become their true selves and give themselves a second chance to love and life.