I adore lesbian pulp novels. Even more than the novels themselves, I adore the tropes of lesbian pulp. And I extra specially adore authors that adore those same tropes in all their absurdity and revel in them as I do.
Monica Nolan is one of those authors. She gets every trope and enjoys playing with them as one might a beloved stuffed animal. She writes with just enough dry humor to make sure her novels do not drag or drown themselves out in sarcasm. Her Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories was a work of genius. Since then, Nolan has embarked upon a series of character trope novels, The first, Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher was an enjoyable romp at (quelle shock!) an elite private girls’ school. Well-worn territory here at Okazu. ^_^
Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary is a direct nod to Ann Bannon’s Beebo Brinker series, which was a classic series about New York City in the 1960s. A tribute, in a way, to Bannon’s character sorority girl Laura who finds herself far from home in the big city with all sorts of desires she doesn’t have a name for.
Lois is a character much like Laura – a gay girl with no understanding that that is what she is, a manipulative lover at school, who is desperate to have her privileged marriage and her piece on the side – and a desire to do something Big and Important. With the help of a school mentor, Lois is given an opportunity to interview at a firm in the big city, and a recommendation for an apartment in a boarding house.
Lois is thrown into the middle of a mystery…only it really isn’t *much* of a mystery. In order for there to be a plot, Lois has to remain naive to the point of pathological cluelessness throughout the entire book. Even the other characters begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with her. ^_^; When the coin finally drops and Lois clues in to the entire plot as we’ve seen it, it is a little excruciating, but only a little so. We, the readers, and the other characters nod, pleased that Lois finally gets what’s been going on.
In the end, it’s a sweet, sappy, predictably amusing look at “country gay girl comes to the big city”, “lesbian boardinghouse”, “lesbian hardass boss lady” and “gets caught up in a mystery” tropes all at once.
Overall – 8
In truth, this is actually the last “Summer Reading” book I read last summer, but then I completely forgot to review it, woops. Since Nolan now has a new book in the series, Maxie Mainwaring, Lesbian Dilettante (I so very much hope it’s an homage to the move The Fourth Sex, oh, please, please….!) and I’m about to start reading that now, I thought I’d get this one out of the way before I forgot again. ^_^
Dear Monica Nolan, please do a military story next. Pleeeaaaasssse, beg, whine.