Friday, November 23, 2001

Turning the Page

Georgia Beers
Renaissance Alliance Publishing

Melanie Larson, a 33 year old Marketing executive has decided it's time to make changes in her life. Little does she know what the next four weeks will bring! After several very successful years with "corporate America," Melanie's company has been purchased by a larger company and the executive offices are moving from Chicago to Seattle. Rather than move West, Melanie has decided to accept a severance package and to take some time off. Melanie Larson needs to decide who she is and what she wants from life. At the behest of her uncle, she finds herself checking in on her rather footloose cousin, Samantha.

Recently divorced, Sammi has all but abandoned the small bookstore that her father purchased a couple of years prior to help "stabilize" her marriage. Melanie finds Sammi residing in a charming little carriage house behind an old farm house, outside of Rochester, New York.

Minutes after arriving in Rochester, Mel meets Taylor Rhodes, an attractive lesbian (outed in introduction by Sam) in her late 20s who lives in the main house next to Sam's cottage. Taylor moved back into her parents' home several months ago, after the sudden death of her mother, in order to look after her father, Benjamin Rhodes. In the last few months, Ben has begun to live his life again and he finds Melanie to be a very attractive woman. The trouble is, so does Taylor.

Beers captures pictures of a lesbian community in a city of approximately 200,000 people in the urban northeastern US circa the turn of the 21st century in realistic, humorous and insightful ways. She details the problem such cities have with maintaining a women's bar, the "gay gentrification" that is common in many historic neighborhoods, and the role of softball in the lives of many a lesbian. Further she pays tribute to the TV show, Xena Warrior Princess and the lesbian community's role in the show's fandom and success. Beers does this via "Xenite" Taylor and eventual convert (puns intended) Melanie who names her bookstore, "The Quill is Mightier" after an episode in the show. To have a story that records a bit of the whole Xena phenomena without actually being a fanfiction or "uber" story is really quite interesting. As part of Melanie's "Lesbianism 101" process, Beers also provides a little tribute to Katherine Forrest's Curious Wine perhaps THE classic lesbian romance novel (certainly in my top five).

Turning the Page is a charming contemporary romance written with wit, compassion, and eros. The characters are interesting. Melanie's coming out is well handled. The politics are relatively mild and the angst is limited to a required level. -- Reading Turning the Page is a delightful way to spend a quiet weekend. Hopefully Ms. Beers will gift us with other such pleasures.

-MJ Lowe

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