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Given that this book won pretty much every SFF award available in the year it came out, it may seem odd that I'm only getting around to reviewing it now, but perhaps that helps me stand back from the buzz.

The season of people posting their "top 10" or "10 favorite" for the past year is a bit fraught for authors. There's always the hope that maybe, just maybe, your work will have been among someone's favorites, or considered by someone to have been among the best of whatever category it is they're considering. For those of us whose work falls outside the popular categories, and when that work came out at the very end of the year when most people have already drawn up their lists, it's best just to close our hearts and move on.

Ordinary historical romance is a bit of a rarity in the lesbian publishing field. The majority of lesbian historicals fall solidly on the erotic side and tend to stick very close to the 20th century (with a small foray into the American West). It is, perhaps, understandable: authors of lesbian historicals report that sales are much lower than for other subgenres, and this doesn’t encourage writers to develop the sort of research background and writing expertise necessary to write the books that could expand readership.

I didn't have the mental energy to do any of the obvious subjects for a random post, and here it is an hour before bed time. So having just opened up the package on my doorstep (how easy it is to lose track of what I've ordered!) and added it to the stack of books waiting to be cataloged, here are some recent aquisitions. Remarkably enough, none of them are intended for immediate projects. More just a matter of background information on topics I might find useful.

We finally come to a close in this re-read. The final chapter provides a perfect conclusion to the overall plot shape. After the very intense conflicts and resolutions in the previous chapter, we have a chance to breathe and relax and enjoy the continuing “magical” delights of Sara’s return to “princess” status. But the structure of the moral accounts includes one more balance item.

This is an intricate, sprawling (if that isn’t self-contradiction) alternate history of how key aspects of African politics might have evolved differently in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, given the right nudges. One might call it “steampunk” it one also pointed out the ways in which it critiques the oft-unexamined colonialism in that genre and makes the point that technology and gadgets do not change essential human nature and human relations.

Once Sara encounters the Indian Gentleman in person, everyone’s truth starts coming out fairly quickly, only drawn out by Carrisford’s stumbling reluctance to ask directly, lest he be disappointed once again. Sara refers to Ram Dass as a Lascar, leading to the revelation that she was born in India. Now, this on its own means little--no doubt all sorts of Anglo-Indian girls were sent to school in London. As Sara’s position at the school is teased out, Carrisford becomes more and more agitated and hands the questioning over to Carmichael.

Is it too much of a coincidence that Mr. Carmichael comes back from Moscow the very day that Sara needs to return the monkey to Mr. Carrisford? Perhaps, perhaps. Chapter 17 opens in expectation of this event, with three of the Carmichael children paying a friendly visit to the Indian Gentleman to cheer him up, such that they will also be conveniently at hand when their father (and later Sara) arrives. The scene has the feel of a carefully orchestrated stage setting, and so perhaps it is.

I have this image, in the weeks following the transformation of Sara’s attic, of Sara’s life splitting into a dual image: the magical, comfortable, secret life she shares with Becky “after hours”, and the continuance of the ostensibly miserable, down-trodden life she lives “downstairs”. The physical conditions of her labor remain identical, but it’s as if her spirit now floats above it all, knowing that a magical world is waiting for her, close at hand.

What if Persephone had been an eager bride...and Hades was a woman?

That's the basic premise of this mythic re-telling of the "abduction" of Persephone as a same-sex romance. Persephone flees Olympus to escape Zeus's tyranny and sexual advances (and starting with a major grudge against him for having raped her childhood crush, one of Demeter's nymphs, and turned her into a bush). A passing encounter with the aloof, brooding, and therefore enticing Hades, Queen of Death at Persephone's Olympian coming-out makes her fixate on Hades as her best refuge.

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