44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2001
This is the book that I believe set the bar for the lesbian romance genre, both in quality of writing and expression of sexuality. Written nearly 20 years ago, this story presented a radical idea: that two women who have many other options to choose from can choose each other. Most of us now take this idea for granted, but 20 years ago not even lesbians were certain they had a right to happiness and forever after, or that they deserved to dream of romance and love.
From a literary standpoint, this novel, for me, thankfully also marked the end of flowery euphemisms for female genitalia -- Forrest's remarkable skill to describe by nuance undoubtedly inspired many other writers (like Karin Kallmaker and Marianne Martin, to name two) to make it clear exactly what is going on ... without explicit sexual language. That writing, not quite erotica, but quite erotic, definitely not pornographic, is one of the hallmarks of a good lesbian romance for me. It's a remarkable achievement in prose and Forrest set the standard for all who followed.
Because this book dates back 20 years, some of the relationship contexts have become dated -- for example, the "consciousness-raising" and emphasis on processing early on. But balance that against a moment of clarity when the two women realize they want each other and realize, also, that they really are old enough, free enough, and courageous enough to go to a motel in the middle of the day. The moments when both of them, separately, realize they have to reach out for what they want, were profound for me, in the context of the character's lives and in the context of our community's struggle to live open lives. We first have to know what we want, and have the strength to reach for it.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
I have often wondered why so many reviewers of lesbian fiction compare books to 'Curious Wine,' and now I know. I was reluctant to purchase this one because I had already been disappointed by two other Forrest books ('Amateur City' and 'Dreams and Swords'). However, my curiosity got the best of me and I'm glad it did.
I won't go into the details of the story because you can get that from the 45 other reviews already here. The bottom line is two women fall in love in the midst of bigotry and small-mindedness. Their love is emotional and the sex is hot. To say more would not do justice to Forrest's accomplishment.
I'm keeping this one (well, I might let my partner read it if she's nice to me). You'll have to find your own copy to read.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2006
"Curious Wine" is a classic romance in every sense of the word. Lambda Literary award-winning author Katherine V. Forrest has captured the hearts and minds of readers since her debut novel came out in 1983. Best known today for her Kate Delafield mysteries and the groundbreaking science fiction novel, "Daughters of a Coral Dawn," Forrest writes romance, mystery, speculative fiction, short stories, and erotica equally well. She continues to be a positive role model to writers, editors, and just about every woman whose life she has touched.
"Curious Wine" is a coming out tale about two loveable, real, and enviable women, Diana Holland and Lane Christianson. The fact that they find each other unexpectedly and connect so profoundly in every way possible is amazing given the political climate of the late seventies. During that time, most lesbians were either in denial or in the closet. A stunning role model in an era when positive, life-affirming lesbian romances were rare, Forrest helped to change all that. "Curious Wine" is touted as "the most popular lesbian novel in the world today," by The Naiad Press, Inc. 1997, and with good reason. With over 100,000 copies sold, numerous editions printed, women of all generations continue to enjoy and be influenced by what she writes.
Diana Holland, a businesswoman who works for a title and trust company, is hurting from a breakup with her boyfriend. To get her mind off her heartache she heads out to Lake Tahoe with her best friend Vivian Kaufman. Forrest transports readers into a comfortable cabin in the woods in Lake Tahoe where both Diana and Lane are guests of Liz Russo. Six women, some meeting for the first time, get to know one another, over drinks, fun, and games. Each woman brings her own story and "baggage" along, which is revealed as the tale unfolds leading to both friendly and volatile interactions.
When Diana meets Lane, the stunning hotshot lawyer, she is impressed by her intelligence, sharp wit, and striking good looks. Diana and Lane form a special bond apart from the group when they discover they have much in common including the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Who would have guessed that Diana would find true love among women? Will Diana be brave enough to love Lane Christianson when every thought screams, "I am not a lesbian" [p. 80] but every fiber of her being is telling her loud and clear that she does in fact, want Lane.
What starts out as "friendly" comforting after a disastrous mind game played with the houseguests, ends up becoming the beginnings of a relationship between two women who become lovers. Each has her own agenda, wants, needs, and desires, but what is undeniable is that they both have an irrefutable attraction and affection for one another. It is easy to love these characters and root for their happiness especially when a less than perfect world of intolerance and bigotry exists. Hoping their love can withstand obstacles both intrinsic and extrinsic keeps the reader glued to the pages.
Amidst the gorgeous setting, divine prose, plausible plot, loveable characters, passionate lovemaking, and life-affirming story, "Curious Wine" is a classic, which transcends generations. The dialogue and narrative intermingle in a well-choreographed dance that makes Diana's world real enough to forget you're reading a novel. The year nineteen seventy-eight was not an easy time to "come out"; women and men who followed their hearts despite societal prejudices were very admirable indeed.
Having won the 2005 Lambda Literary Award in the Lesbian Mystery category for "Hancock Park" and the prestigious Lambda Pioneer Award, Katherine V. Forrest, is well deserving of these accolades with her tireless efforts for the gay community and her collection of captivating fiction. I applaud her with a standing ovation for what she has achieved and for the fine example she has set for future authors of this genre. I recommend "Curious Wine" to anyone who wants a delightful, expertly written, entertaining, engaging, and remarkably romantic tale. It is a timeless novel to be revisited often!
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2001
This book is the classic lesbian romance. Woven with the heart-felt, painfully beautiful verse of Emily Dickinson, this honest and simple tale of two lovers is eloquently written, passionate, and satisfying. If you are sick of the butch/femme dicotomy and all of the labels and roles that often pollute the purity and authenticity of two women falling in love, you will find comfort here. Curious Wine is the story of two women, beautiful on both the inside and the outside, who not only fall deeply in love, but heal each other's pain. In contrast with the objectification of women that exists so much today even in the lesbian community, the lovers in Curious Wine see one another as people, and share an almost-spiritual connection. Diana and Lane truly come alive to the reader, and the depths of their characters are revealed with grace, honesty, and believability. Their love is gentle, tender, selfless, and delightfully passionate. Beautiful work. Highly recomended!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2006
When I was questioning my sexuality (about being a lesbian) in the late 1980's, I was hungry for a book that would give me a positive outlook on being a lesbian. Unfortunately I didn't find or read any sexy, enlightening, and romantic lesbian novels until I stumbled upon 'Curious Wine' by Katherine Forrest. I read this book in a couple of hours and proceeded to read it at least another 50 times (this is no exaggeration.) I love this book so much, I own 4 copies. Also, in 2006 I travelled to Australia and New Zealand with a copy of this book in my luggage (I am NOT kidding!)
IN a nutshell, this book is about a groups of women (mostly acquaintances or strangers) who meet up in cabin in Lake Tahoe for a vacation. Lane Christianson, a lawyer, and Diana, a personnel manager, immediately strike up a friendship which soon develops into something more. Please be warned, this book is a bit dated (the time frame takes place in the late 1970's) but this is still one of my all time favorite books EVER! And at least to me, this book has it all - gorgeous women, fabulous and multiple lesbian love scenes, romantic intensity, and most especially A HAPPY ENDING.
Up until Curious Wine came out, lesbians (espeically good looking ones) living happily ever after was a rare thing (in fact I never read a book that had a happy ending until this one.) By the way, the book on tape of this book is also fabulous. The lady who reads it has this delicious English accent and I listened to it so much, I broke the tape!
Buy a copy of this book. You won't be disappointed (unless you hate romance.)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 1998
Curious Wine is a beautifully written romance. The characters are believable, and you are definately hooked 20 pages in. I have read the book 3 times, and have yet to get bored with it. I just hope one day they make this book into a movie. If you are a romantic , then this book is must read.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2000
I heard about this book a long time ago, and once I found it, settled in for an objectively good read. I just couldn't put it down! The characters are griping, the writing is superb, and from time to time I still get the warm fuzzies whenever I remember these two wonderful women and the tentative, beautiful love they shared. Definitely a true classic. And 100% Highly Recommended!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2001
I have a first edition of this book and have read it dozens of times over the years. As a matter of fact, my copy is almost in tatters yet the story never grows old or boring. It is the romance novel that I judge all others by and they all have come up short. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 tells of a society where books are banned and in order to keep the knowledge, folks memorize a book until such a time that they can be printed again. Well, in such a time and place I would become this book. What more could I possibly say?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2006
Curious Wine was part of the beginning of my lesbian book collection (having come out in the mid-80's). It's still one of my favorite lesbian romances after all these years. I am not one to re-read books much, but I do have a short list of select lesbian novels that I tend to re-read every 1-2 years as sort of my "lezzie break" from reading everything else that I do, the majority of which is written by and about straight people. Curious Wine is on that list. (Along with one of Forrest's other novels, Emergence of Green.)
As another reviewer mentioned, this is lesbian fantasy romance. It's not terribly believable that two women meet, fall in love, and decide to devote their lives to each other in the space of three or four days. Normally that sort of thing irritates me in a book. But in this case, it doesn't matter! The characters are so wonderfully drawn, their connection so profound, and the setting so beautifully detailed, that it all works wonderfully in this singular book.
Curious Wine is historically important in lesbian fiction because of the time period in which the story takes place, and the time period in which it was published. Lesbian fiction was just starting to get a significant foothold back then with the help of publishers like Naiad Press. So even if you're not a romance fan, it's worth reading at least once just for that.
For romance fans, Curious Wine will likely take an honored place on your bookshelf, to be taken down and read time after time. No lesbian home is complete without it.
Edited 12/2007 to add:
Something that I've been noticing a lot is that Curious Wine is one of the most mentioned lesbian titles in other lesbian novels. Usually in circumstances where a character is looking at someone's bookcase and makes note of titles it contains or a character is talking about books they've read that were important to them in coming out, etc. Patience and Sarah is probably the most mentioned title. I felt this was worth pointing out because it indicates the impact this book has had over the years, especially on other lesbian authors. And is yet another reason why everyone should read it at least once. ;)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2000
I purchased and read this book when I first came out. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me see that I wasn't the only one who had to make a decision on my real sexual preference. It was heartwarming and left me tingling all over. I have purchased this book for my friend's birthdays because I don't give mine out. I have read this book at least 20 times and it always cheers me up. It is a good, fast read. I love reading it and sharing it.