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amo, amas, amat...: An Unconventional Love Story Paperback – June 24, 2011
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The wonderful message of this story comes from how Mary Cate develops a rich life without romantic love. This is a story with a wonderfully satisfying happy ending - as good as any romance, but entirely different from what the younger Mary Cate could ever have imagined.
Meredith Sue Willis, author of Out of the Mountains and Oradell at Sea
Carter Seaton's well-crafted narrative is true to our complex times. She treats controversial and important issues of sexual orientation both frankly and sensitively, suggesting, through this unconventional tale, how we might come of age as a society.
Eddy Pendarvis, Poet, and book reviewer for Now and Then
From the Author
I call amo, amas, amat...an unconventional love story "a gay message in a straight envelope." While it is fiction, it draws on experiences many who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s had in coming to terms with the LGBT community.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have purchased three paper copies of this book and will NOT be loaning this Kindle copy to anyone. Everyone who reads it, asks if they can let a friend read it, and off it goes.
It is a wonderful story of love, hurt, friendship, understanding...do yourself a huge favor...read it!
Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I -- / I took the one less traveled by, / and that has made all the difference. -- Robert Frost
Carter Taylor Seaton's eBook "Amo, amas, amat...An Unconventional Love Story" (Amazon Digital Services $7.99 delivered to your Kindle reader or tablet) appears during the 30th anniversary year of the discovery of HIV-AIDS, and it's a perfect introduction to the subject of gays and straights and how they can co-exist.
It's also a page-turner that can and should be enjoyed by everybody, Northerners, Southerners, gays, straights, men, women. I mention the North-South divide because Seaton's novel is set in Asheville, NC and Atlanta, with side trips (by Nick Hamilton) to Charlotte, NC. There's a regional difference in the treatment by straights of gay men and lesbian women, with more tolerance north of the Mason-Dixon Line (with the notable exception of gay friendly Key West, a notably tolerant place which has been jokingly described as a drinking village with a fishing problem) and Seaton deals with this in her coverage of violence against gay men in 1980s Atlanta.
After a prologue set in Atlanta in 1988, the novel opens in 1983 Asheville, where 33-year-old Mary Cate Randolph still believes, against all evidence to the contrary, that a Prince Charming will come her way and rescue her from spinsterhood. Her sister, Bitty, is happily married, with two "perfectly formed -- but wretchedly behaved" children, and her mother, Abby, and her father, Howard, want a similar outcome to Mary Cate's life.
The Randolph family is described by Mary Cate as Country Club Baptists -- as opposed to less tolerant Country Baptists -- but they're anything but gay and lesbian friendly. That goes double for homophobic Mary Cate, who at age 15 joined classmates in taunting a suspected gay boy in high school named Emmett Hubbard by calling him "Auntie Em" -- among other slurs. The boy later committed suicide.
At the Black Mountain Country Club Mary Cate meets Nick Christian Hamilton, who fits the description of Prince Charming to a "Shrek" T. He's blond, blue-eyed and tanned the way a tennis pro should be. Julia Ann Maxwell, Mary Cate's best friend, thinks that in the wake of her disastrous relationships -- including an affair with a professor at Agnes Scott College, their alma mater -- tennis pro Nick Hamilton looks like a winner.
Both women are operating with defective "gaydars" because Nick is deeply in the closet. His favorite hangout is The Blue Boy, a gay bar in Charlotte, where he attended UNC-Charlotte, where he can let it all hang out with his friends Philip Preston and Race Gonzales, from his hometown of Cayce, a suburb of Columbia, SC.
After a dramatic scene at a country club dance, Nick and Mary Cate begin an affair that has life-changing consequences for both of them. I don't want to give away more of the plot of this gem of a novel, which I recommend to everyone looking for good reading. You may come away with a greater understanding of the qualities that make people with different sexuality good friends, especially when Mary Cate moves to Atlanta into a diverse close-to-downtown gentrifying neighborhood. Suffice it to say that the move transforms Mary Cate Randolph.
Set in the south in the era before the murder of San Francisco's gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, and around the time film's most handsome "hunk", Rock Hudson, died of AIDS, the story is one of love and personal growth.
Back then, homophobia was a given in the USA. Being an announced or suspected homosexual could result in ridicule, job loss, being beaten or killed.
In the novel, country clubber Mary Cate, the 33 year old rebellious daughter of a wealthy family, falls in love with the club's handsome new tennis pro. Staff members, of course, are prohibited from having personal relationships with members. But he's a stranger and lonely.
More to the point of the story, he's gay and keeping the fact a secret.
She's clueless and persistent and a rule breaker. Attracted by his good looks and nice manners, she signs up for tennis lessons and finds a way to join him for daily runs.
She arranges frequent quiet dinners for two in her up-scale apartment.
She considers him an improvement from the recent men in her life. She finds their platonic date-like encounters refreshing. He's her idea of a gentleman and he's blond, muscled and interesting. What's not to like?
He likes her a lot. She's a good cook and good company. More to the point, he considers her good "cover". Having a woman in tow makes him appear less gay.
Eventually, alcohol and moonlight work surprising results.
Many twist and turns await the reader as the novel follows an unexpected path to its realistic end.
I like its message.