November 2007

Books are amazing vehicles. They can transport you & me to anywhere in the cosmos, limited only by the imagination. They can teach us the great truths of the past & the revelations of the future. We can travel like molecules inside bodies & machines to discover their workings, or we can learn how to perfect a Pavlova or build a boat.

But let me tell you about books that are altogether quite different.
In some respects, these feed the voyeuristic side of our nature.

Oh, come on now, we’re all voyeuristic to some degree. Why do you think the likes of Big Brother & every other ‘reality’ show on T.V. top the ratings? Just watch ‘Australian Idol’.

We sit through weeks of auditions insulting to the ear till we gradually weed out the good ones then follow their progress as they blossom into stars. It’s not so much about the music; think about it, we relate to the kids struggling to fulfil their dreams. We see the tears & the tantrums & the makeovers & we relate to it. We live our own little fantasies through the medium of television.

What’s all this got to do with books? Well, I’ve found a genre of books that does just the same thing and, collectively, they are the writings of C.C. Saint-Clair.
She’s written seven so far & I impatiently wait for the next instalment in the lives of her characters. Like reality shows, her characters aren’t great adventurers, heroines etc. They’re you & they’re me.

As you read them, you can’t help thinking, “Oh my God! It’s like she’s read my diary … or that of a friend”.
None of us, in spite of our striving for individuality, want to be different. But we all think we are & that often worries us no end. Saint-Clair’s books show you that you’re not different, & as you read [through her characters] of the struggles others face, especially in our world of homosexuality, you end up feeling ‘normal’, not different.
This woman has attracted the tag of “the thinking woman’s lesbian romance writer”. I’ve read that line in so many reviews, it’s almost become ‘cliché’, but I’m afraid it’s so accurate that I, too, have to use it.

Saint-Clair writes with an innate sense of understanding of the fragile nature of our minds & how our attitudes to life take us down one particular road or other.

She writes with empathy, she truly allows us to feel the pain & the joy of her characters. She guides us through the sexual side of these lives with just as much realism.

We all run the gamut of emotions from doubts about our prowess in the love chambers to our soaring bouts of sex goddess; from self-conscious doubts about our bodies to utter bliss over the acceptance of them & the joy we’ve given our lovers.

Saint-Clair’s stories show us in through visuals & words we understand that there IS LIFE AFTER LOVE. And haven’t we all been there! That’s what I mean about heroines or other fictional personas …… we’re reading about ourselves or our sisters & we end up feeling like we are all part of a familiar landscape.

I hope, now that you’ve reached this point, you aren’t thinking, “Yeah …… but I’m 18, or 32, or 60.” Or ‘But I’ve been abused.” Or “Nothing dramatic has ever happened in my life.” Or “But I’m a mechanic/lawyer/ mother…” because it’s ALL there, girls. YOU are there, somewhere in one of her plots!

 

Each of Saint-Clair’s books is a stand-alone but it’s almost like each belongs to a family & we see some characters from one book re-immerge unexpectedly in the plot of another.
Alex is the first woman we meet & then Emilie. These are our older lesbians, & then we meet Tamara, Maddy, and Jo & most recently, Morgan. There are lots of support characters as well, like so many of our mothers, sisters or aunts. Or perhaps a father, a brother or a neighbour. Not necessarily nice and emotionally healthy people.

I guarantee you’ll ‘recognise’ someone.
And the stories flag social, emotional & political issues in their unfolding. We read about incest & rape, child abuse, homelessness, & that gives way to thinking that we can actively reach out & help one another & ourselves.

We read about DV (domestic violence) even among our own, about discrimination & the still present need for varying degrees of being closeted just so we can keep a job. We learn what it’s like to be a trans man.

 

There are love triangles & there are precious friendships. You can sail the Whitsundays on a yacht or challenge the sand beneath the wheels of your Suzuki or Renegade as you speed down the beach & bellyflop in the dunes.

If any of these things touch something in you, you’ll definitely want to become a Saint-Clair reader.