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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!"
Three dream of being Broadway Stars, the other wants to be writer and dreams of being the next Ernest Hemingway.
While it's titled Juliana, really it's about Al, Aggie, Dickie and Danny coming of age in NYC, fulfilling their dreams, four likable characters and great support cast and Al just takes over the story.
Felt like Vanda without realizing it, or maybe she knows it, wants the reader to become Alice or Al, as her friends call her.
I liked Vanda's writing style, she writes an engaging story, she puts the reader right in the pages, has unforgettable characters, your at the Stage Door Canteen with your few soldiers enjoying singing entertainment, making sacrifices for the war cause and reads like a play or a movie even.
Even if your not into the reading LBGT books, but like reading post World War 2 books, the author keeps it relatively clean, scenes change before they get to graphic and think you like this one.
With Juliana, Vanda gives the reader a look at what life was like in the States during WW2, the sacrifices everyone made, dimming lights, finding alternative items for things they can't get due to the war and like that it's fiction verse non-fiction.
I also like how Vanda took actually history regarding the celebrities from that time period, added real places, and expertly blended it with her fictional characters.
Will be adding more to this one.
Most recent customer reviews
I’m agonizing to find the right words to review this novel but nothing comes to mind, because this novel is flawless and so very perfect, at least for...Read more