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The Story So Far: A Novel, by Jane Eklund.

July 18, 2020

The Story So FarThe Story So Far: A Novel, by Jane Eklund.  Bauhan Publishing, 2020.

Forthcoming

3 stars

An unusual novel about a young lesbian, who is seduced by a cultured woman almost three decades older  and stays with her for fifteen years.  A subtle critique of the idea that there is one way that lesbians should structure their lives.

Jane Eklund lives in rural New Hampshire where she has edited a newspaper and seen her stories and poems appear in a variety of publications.  She has also been an activist for lesbian concerns.

The narrator of The Story So Far is a young woman, seduced by an elegant woman twice her age.  Neither of the woman are named in the book.  The older woman is a successful author of popular fiction which has provided her with enough money to live well.  The younger woman has just graduated from college and is working in a library shelving books. They maintain their relationship for fifteen years, during which the author remains the dominating force. The author provides the younger woman with expensive gifts, but limits the terms of her availability.  The couple are not feminists or any part of a lesbian, or any other community.  They refuse to even think of themselves as lesbians.  The younger woman gradually advances in the library world and has a gay neighbor who is the most consistent force in her life. Then the younger woman gets restless and moves on.  Only after the older woman has a stroke in her seventies do the two come back together, with the librarian stepping in arrange her care.  By that point the younger woman is able to accept the limitations of their relationship and see that, in spite of her former lover’s domination, she has her story to live and to tell.

I disliked the first two thirds of this book, in part because I thought that the relationship of the two women was not up to the standards I have for lesbian couples.  Only as I ended the book did I realize that the book was telling me to stop being so judgmental about other women’s lives.

This is an interesting book, especially for straight women like myself who have idealized lesbian lives.

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