October Book Review0
The Swashbuckler by Lee Lynch; 3 stars (out of 5); read in October 2015
This is somewhere between 3 and 3.5, depending on which part of the book I’m thinking about. This got considerably better for me as it went on. Tt went from being another pulp-type book where the women fall in love moments after they meet, live together for 3 weeks, and move on, to a statement about rights and freedom, and a real look at what lesbian life was like in the 60’s. It’s valuable for that last bit, if nothing else. (I mean, holy crap, you could be arrested for crossdressing if you didn’t wear enough “girly” clothing!)
The rules around the butch/femme dynamic were modeled to look so much like heterosexual couples and patriarchal dynamics. It’s strange how easily people fell into that. So I liked seeing that shift by the end. I think, also, that Lynch tried to start a conversation about racism and privilege, and I’m so glad to see that. This isn’t fantastically written (although it’s not bad either), but she tackles a lot in it, and, I believe, moves past the books that came before this. There is good character growth and social growth that’s pointed to as well, which is more than I got out of those earlier books.
“Mercedes didn’t want to be butch, she didn’t want Frenchy to be butch. Like Lydia and Doreatha, Mercedes wanted them to come together equally, somehow.”
But even after all of it there is still the fear and uncertainty – “Frenchy thought: if they come for us tomorrow, we’ve had this, and we’ll be stronger for it.” So there’s this reminder of how far we still had to come (and of course still do) even as the characters find happiness in the end.