Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Desert of the Heart (Novels #1) by Jane Rule

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In celebration of Pride Month: Desert of the Heart (Paperback) by Jane Rule

Two women meet and fall in love in Reno, Nevada. Set in the late fifties, this classic of lesbian eroticism is Jane Rule's first novel.

Set in the late 1950s, this is the story of Evelyn Hall, an English Professor, who goes to Reno to obtain a divorce and put an end to her disastrous 16-year marriage. While staying at a boarding house to establish her six-week residency requirement she meets Ann Childs, a casino worker and fifteen years her junior. Physically, they are remarkably alike and eventually have an affair and begin the struggle to figure out just how a relationship between two women can last. Desert of the Heart examines the conflict between convention and freedom and the ways in which the characters try to resolve the conflict.

It is quite fitting to read and review this extraordinary book written almost forty years ago by a gay rights advocate. It is a pity that I write this knowing that Jane Rule passed away in 2007 not seeing the historic day when the US Supreme Court finally set to rights what should have been settled years ago by rejecting DOMA and allowing same sex marriage in California - something which should never have been treated like a yoyo in the first place.

The two women in Desert of the Heart find each other in the days when same sex relationships was not only not written about, but never ever talked about. It was a taboo subject that, although never reaching the bigotry of what we experience today, one would only hear about when whispered under top secret circumstances.

It is funny that the setting, the 1950s, was also the time when one man was openly living with another - no other than J. Edgar Hoover himself founder of the present FBI. No one talked about it, taboo as I said, but everyone knew about it. However, I digress.

The story is compelling, and surprisingly very present. The scenes between the women were not a turn-off for readers like myself who prefer gen-fic and MM stories. Isn't that weird? I am very comfortable reading MF and MM but not FF - what a freaking weird thing to admit online??!?!?!??!?! But in all honesty, this did not turn me off in the least. There is hardly any eroticism but the reader is left without a doubt that the budding love affair between the two new friends is very physical and emotional.

I do not like the ending, the two women decide to live together, "for a while," but then I love my HEA endings and I am too much of a romantic to be satisfied with a HFN ending. I must remember that this is set in a time when it was quite dangerous for same sex couples to be open. Unlike today, only two days ago in fact, when everything changed for the better.

For even more books by Rule, please visit

Review based on an ARC sent by Netgalley

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