Lesbian Historical Fiction: The Last Nude and More

I just finished The Last Nude and I am eager to a) get myself back to Paris, and b) discuss it at book club on Monday.  To get the conversation going, here are what others have said.

I really do love historical fiction with lesbian characters and we’ve read several for book club but I’ve got a hunger now so I did some digging on what else is out there. Below are the ones we’ve read, some of my favorites, and others I’ve just added to my “to read” tower.  Let me know what I might have missed!

Historicals we’ve read for book club:

Sappho’s Leap by Erica Jong: A journey back 2,600 years to inhabit the mind of the greatest love poet the world has ever known.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters: In a tale that moves backwards in time, three women and one man seek adventure in 1940s London.

Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue: Born to rough cloth in working-class London in 1748, Mary Saunders hungers for linen and lace. Her lust for a shiny red ribbon leads her to a life of prostitution at a young age, where she encounters a freedom unknown to virtuous young women.

Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller: Set in the nineteenth century, Isabel Miller’s classic lesbian novel traces the relationship between Patience White, an educated painter, and Sarah Dowling, a cross-dressing farmer, whose romantic bond does not sit well with the puritanical New England farming community in which they live.

Some of my favorites:

Let’s call this “The Sarah Waters Collection”

Tipping the Velvet: A saucy historical romance that follows the glittering career of Nan King – oyster girl turned music-hall star turned rent boy turned London East End ‘tom’.

Fingersmith: The fate of Sue Trinder, raised among petty thieves in mid-19th century London, is linked to that of Maud, an orphan being raised in a gloomy mansion.

Affinity: An upper-class Victorian-era woman falls for Sarah, a prisoner who appears to have ghostly visitors.

Ones to read:

The Emma Donoghue Duet:

Life Mask: Rumors of lesbianism suface in genteel 18th-century London when England’s queen of comedy, Eliza Farren, befriends sculptor Anne Damer.

Sealed Letter: In 1864 London, Helen, the wife of Vice-Admiral Codrington, bumps into her old friend Emily Faithful, now a well-known feminist and independent printer. Emily soon finds herself party to Helen’s clandestine affair and snared in sensational divorce proceedings.

Afterimage by Helen Humphreys: A wealthy and childless English couple, Isobelle and Eldon Dashell, share a desire for their new Irish maid, Annie, in this story inspired by photographs taken by Juliet Margaret Cameron.

The Doctor: A Novel by Patricia Duncker: The incredible life of a brilliant female physician who is compelled to live as a man under the name James Miranda Barry in the 19th century.

Alcestis by Katharine Beutner: In Greek myth, Alcestis is known as the ideal wife; she loved her husband so much that she died and went to the underworld in his place. In this vividly-imagined debut, Katharine Beutner gives voice to the woman behind the ideal and reveals the part of the story that’s never been told: What happened to Alcestis in the three days she spent in the underworld?

The Spanish Pearl (When Kate Vincent and her partner travel to Spain, Kate is accidentally transported back in time…way back in time…to 1085.) and the sequel, The Crown of Valencia, by Catherine Friend, (yes, that Catherine Friend whose Hit By A Farm we read. Now we know what she does when she’s not hanging out with those sheep…)

Forbidden Fires by Margaret C. Anderson: A fictionalized account of the early years of the author’s romance with French actress and singer Georgette Leblanc in 1958

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland: They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn’t she?

Here’s a  librarything link to more—though some aren’t lesbian or historical fiction.

And, this very cool index of historicals sorted by time period (though a little out of date and not indexed by sexual preference, alas)

Happy historical reading! Any other suggestions, please pass them on, and if you’ve read any of the above, do tell.

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One Response to Lesbian Historical Fiction: The Last Nude and More

  1. Pingback: Lesbrary Link Round Up « The Lesbrary

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