- Paperback: 252 pages
- Publisher: Vanilla Heart Publishing (October 23, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1935407864
- ISBN-13: 978-1935407867
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,892,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Complementary Colors Paperback – October 23, 2009
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
As with her first novel, For the May Queen, Kate Evans explores not so much a coming of age story as a coming to terms story in her new novel Complementary Colors. Gwen Sullivan returns to the Bay Area after a stint teaching English in Japan. With nowhere else to go, and mostly only the clothes in her suitcase, she moves in with her boyfriend, Daniel, a genius but self-absorbed scientist who, though inviting Gwen to live with him, makes no accommodations for her presence physically or emotionally. Along with her increasingly unsatisfying relationship and a job that doesn't thrill her, Gwen decides to take a poetry class to ease her discontent; it is here that she meets Cat and Jamie, a couple of rollicking rough and tumble dykes, who are as intrigued by Gwen as she is by them. And while poetry may be the medium, a myriad of creative and sexual fires are alighted within Gwen against a backdrop of a widening void between herself and Daniel. As we follow Gwen's journey for self-awareness, we are not so much rooting for her peace as we are cheering for her to come to terms with and embrace her truest desires. Whether she is imbued with confusion or clarity, we are rallying for Gwen's appreciation of her creative and sexual self as she comes closer to realizing and living her own truth. A deftly crafted exploration of self-identity as only Kate Evans can achieve. Brava! --Cynn Chadwick, author of Cat Rising, Girls with Hammers, Babies, Bikes, and Broads, and Angels and Manners
Sophisticated and nuanced ... resplendent with the grace and wonder that accompany self-discovery. --Jayne Pupek, author of Tomato Girl and Forms of Intercession
Kate Evans has carefully, firmly, and personally contextualized the ever present dilemma of being a woman poet: millennia of misogynistic assumptions about the worth of a woman's mind and the honoring of a woman s body. Through the pages of this engaging, well-crafted novel, Evans delineates the ways in which the language of men degrades the language of women. The good news is that Evans' protagonist doesn't take it lying down. --Merry Gangemi, Woman-Stirred Radio
About the Author
Kate Evans is the author of a poetry collection (Like All We Love, Spirit/Q Press) and a book about lesbian and gay teachers (Negotiating the Self, Routledge). Her stories, poems and essays have appeared in more than 40 publications, including the North American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Santa Monica Review,and ZYZZYVA. Her work has been nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, two Lambda Literary Award and three Pushcart Prizes. A California native, she teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Jose State University.
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Top customer reviews
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The story is told in first person. Gwen is a thirty-one-year old woman who has kinda been drifting through life, just latching on to things when they come her way. She's in a longterm relationship with a man who seems entirely unsuited to her and working a job she doesn't particularly like, but she doesn't really appear to be seriously thinking of doing anything to change that. All this changes when she takes a poetry class and becomes intrigued with one of her classmates, who is a lesbian.
The real strength of this book is Evans's writing. The story, a straight woman confronting being attracted to another woman for the first time, has been told before in many ways. So in that respect there's nothing unique here. What is unique is how Evans tells the story and the language she uses. Gwen's excitement over poetry is palpable and Evans's prose is quite poetic and enchanting. (I'm not into poetry personally, but Evans easily made me understand why Gwen is.)
Evans has a deft touch with characterization also. Even characters who only appear once or a few times are vivid. Where I thought her skill in this regard really shone was in regards to Gwen's boyfriend, Daniel. He's a very closed up person and though it's not stated, I'd guess he suffers from depression. It's possible that he came across as unsympathetic to other readers, but I empathized with him a great deal. It's not that he's a bad person so much as he doesn't realize how unsuitable he is for being in that sort of a relationship, especially with a person like Gwen. I believe this was Evans's intent in how she wrote him.
About the only weakness I can think of is that the pacing seems a bit uneven at times. Sometimes it felt like things dragged a bit here and there, or we were a little too wrapped up in Gwen's mental musings at the expense of new events unfolding. But this is a fairly minor criticism for what is otherwise a very good book.
Cynn Chadwick in the product page review above states that, "Kate Evans explores not so much a coming of age story as a coming to terms story." I think that's an excellent way to sum up this book. Here's a passage from Complementary Colors that I highlighted in my Kindle: "But here I was, right on the edge of something. My inside life and my outside life each had one foot on different continental plates. An earthquake seemed inevitable."
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-written book about a woman's internal struggles with trying to make sense of her life. Especially readers who enjoy books about relationships between women, both friendship and romantic.
Kindle Note: This ebook is from a small publisher so the formatting is pretty simplistic, but there are few errors.