(Originally aired 2018/07/21 - listen here)
Heather Rose: This week, Justine Saracen joins us again to talk about some favorite books she's read that feature queer women in history. Welcome back, Justine.
Justine Saracen: Thank you for having me back. This is just a very brief remark. I was so impressed by Sarah Waters that I recommend her wholeheartedly. She writes primarily about Victorian England. Her two most famous books take place in the Victorian era. But she wrote one World War II novel. I'm not sure. Do you remember the name?
H: Is that The Paying Guests? Is that the one? No.
J: No. I appreciate The Paying Guests, and I don't have it in my library, so--
H: Something about a child.
J: Well, she starts post-war and then goes back. She moves backwards in time. She's an enormously creative inventive writer. She's full of surprises. I just admire her as a-- she's a writer's writer. So I would recommend her without reservation. And I want to add that when I was just starting to write, I only had about two or three novels out, I was at a book fair in England. I was signing books, I was sitting at a table and she was sitting right next to me. And I think two people came-- because no one heard of me yet-- [Heather laughs] Two people came and they bought books and wanted me to sign them. And she had a long-- about 40 people! But she was so gracious about it. Yeah. We joked about it at the time.
H: [Justine laughs] Yeah. She has a technique of completely overturning your expectations like five times in a book.
J: Right. I think it's in-- it's not even important which one it’s in I suppose--but midway through you think you're have it figured out. You know? You follow the twists and turns and you think, "I got this one." And then, boom! You're dead wrong.
H: Yeah. Fingersmith is the one I was thinking of where--
J: That was it, yeah. She's very good. So, all you out there hearing my voice, read Sarah Waters.
H: Yeah. I think your readers would especially like her because she does the same thing where, yes, there is a romance thread through it, but it's a different genre. It's the adventure or the mystery or something like that with the romance threaded through it. Very sharp-edged in many cases
J: She's just smart. She's a smart writer. I like to read smart writers.
H: Do you have another book?
J: Well, the one I mentioned earlier. It doesn't have an author and it's not LGBT, it's just a wonderful book that everyone should read. It's A Woman in Berlin, and it's not LGBT at all. Just about a woman and her fate of living through the years after the war. If you like a war-context story, then this is an autobiographical. It's non-fiction. It's a wonderful book. The author is anonymous so you have to look for it by its title. It exists in about four or five languages, and I just can't recommend it enough. Except read my book first. Read Berlin Hungers first [Heather laughs] before you read A Woman in Berlin and then you realize how much I plagiarized.
H: Right. It's sort of like watching the movie before you read the novel. [laughs]
J: Right. Yeah. I read a lot of historical books but no they're not LGBT so that's really my only recommendation, Sarah Waters.
H: She is certainly definitely an author to recommend highly. Thank you so much, I'll put links to the titles of the books in the show notes. And thank you for sharing your book love with us.
J: Thank you very much for inviting me. It's been a real pleasure.
In the Book Appreciation segments, our featured authors (or your host) will talk about one or more favourite books with queer female characters in a historic setting.
Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online
Links to Heather Online
Links to Justine Saracen Online