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Juliana: Book 1 (Juliana Series) Paperback – May 28, 2016
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"...captures the fear, excitement, and eroticism of a young lesbian's awakening in the 1940s. (Kirkus Reviews)
What a pleasure it was to read Volume One! I love theauthor's vision. Her research brought the settings alive. Onceupon a time, I would have pursued Juliana myself. She's a fully developedcharacter I look forward to seeing in future volumes.
Lee Lynch (author of The Swashbuckler) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The novel begins in June 1941 when World War I was known as the Great War, and impending World War II was called the European War. The kids get their first apartments, find day jobs, land some gigs and discover themselves and the larger world which for Al involves her sexual awakening and attraction to 24-year-old cabaret singer Juliana. The historic material is seamlessly woven into the characters' development, and poignantly evokes what it was like to be gay or lesbian during this period.
The United States joins the war upon Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it affects everyone. The gay and lesbian characters all patriotically contribute without question to the war effort against the foreign danger -- Al volunteers at the Stage Door Canteen and others join the Armed Forces -- and yet they remain subject to degrading oppression and ugly violence from their own country due to homophobic forces. The irony can be brutal. The military discovers one character as gay, and disposes of him as an "undesirable" pursuant to a so-called "blue discharge" which may have a devastating impact for his post-war plans.
No doubt there are dark moments and uneasy threats which hang over the novel due to the pervasive homophobia. However, "Juliana" is not a bleak novel. Even under trying times gay folks with some creativity, measured caution and bold courage were able to establish a vibrant community in New York, and much of it centered around the theater crowd which is just brilliantly depicted throughout. Even in the early 1940s there were rent boys, drag shows, cigarettes and cocktails, wacky weed, gay bars and wild parties. The 1970s may have had Elton John but in 1941 Walter Liberace was performing at Spivy's Roof! As naive country girl Al exclaims at one point: "this New York City was turning everything upside down," and "such a strange world I'd just stumbled into!"
Alice "Al" Huffman and her friends, from Long Island, dream of becoming successful Broadway artists. However, like everything else in life, dreams don't always come true, especially when a horrific war is thrown into the mix. When Pear Harbor is bombed, young men couldn't get in line fast enough to enlist in the war. Al and her friends do their part by volunteering at the Stage Door Canteen.
Juliana is a cabaret singer who Al immediately feels an attraction to when they first me. The feelings seem to be mutual and eventually go beyond just kissing. As per the time period, this sort of behavior is described as deviant and disgusting. Since many of the people Al knows are associated with the theatre, she becomes familiar with many homosexuals. They try to help and protect her with her struggles about her sexuality and her attraction to Julianna.
This fist volume is a great read. The characters stay with the reader after the novel is complete. One can't but wonder what happens to the relationships that have been established and those that have become frayed.
I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, through Reading Deals, so I could give an honest review.
I absolutely loved Alice (Al). Her transformation from this naive little country girl to, what one character called her, a New York girl was amazing. Her acceptance of the gay/lesbian scene and later on, of her own sexuality was brutally honest for that time period. Also brutally honest was how people perceived gays/lesbians during that time. Several scenes (Al finding out that Danny was having an affair with Max, Al being told about Shirl’s beating and rape, meeting Andy and the heartbreaking end to Al and Aggie’s friendship) outlined that.
Her relationship with Juliana was bittersweet. Al was in love with Juliana and Juliana, well, she considered Al one of her conquests. Al was warned about Juliana from several people (Max, Victoria, Shirl) but still sought her out. Even Juliana warned Al about falling for her. Of course, Al doesn’t listen to anyone and ends up losing her heart.
The sex scenes were very tastefully done and the author always ended the chapter before it got too graphic.
The end of the book was great and I loved the twist at the very end. I also loved that with the way the book ended, you knew that there would be a Volume 2. That is something that I cannot wait to read!!!
The afterwords from the author was great. She explained why she wrote the book, why she chose the 1940’s, went into the gay scene in the late 1920s-1930s in Greenwich Village, what it was like in the 1940’s for gays/lesbians, and gave a detailed account from a woman who had homosexual friends in the 1940’s. She also included a glossary of sorts of terms for gay/lesbian in the 1940’s….which answered a few questions I had while reading. Take for instance the term “beard”. In that time period, it was used to describe a woman who posed as a girlfriend or wife for a gay man so his homosexuality was not revealed. She also included a complete list of references that she used while writing the book and a guide if a book club would discuss it.
**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**
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