Patience and Sarah (Lesbian Romance)

Christian Gays Forums Book Reviews Patience and Sarah (Lesbian Romance)

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    In my opinion, the VERY BEST lesbian romance of all time is Patience and Sarah.  It was the first lesbian romance I ever read, and it’s what got me hooked.  It has been made into an opera.

    From Wikipedia:
    Patience and Sarah is a 1969 historical fiction novel with strong lesbian themes by Alma Routsong, using the pen name Isabel Miller. It was originally self-published under the title A Place For Us and eventually found a publisher as Patience and Sarah in 1971.[1][2]
    Routsong’s novel is based on a real-life painter named¬†Mary Ann Willson¬†who lived with her companion Miss Brundage as a “farmerette” in the early 19th century in¬†Greene County, New York. Routsong said she came upon Willson’s work in a¬†folk art¬†museum in¬†Cooperstown¬†and was inspired to write the story after reading the description of Willson and Brundage.[2]¬†It tells the story of two women in¬†Connecticut¬†in 1816 who fall in love and decide to leave their homes to buy a farm in another state or territory and live in a¬†Boston marriage. The story addresses the limited opportunities and roles of women in¬†early America,¬†gender¬†expression, and the interpretation of religion in everyday life.
    Sarah Waters, author of¬†Tipping the Velvet¬†and other historical novels with lesbian themes,[3]¬†has said that this book was an influence on her writing. She received the book from a girlfriend in 1988 at age 22 and was “struck by the lyricism and economy of it, by its gentle humour, and by its sexiness.”[4]
    For any who may be interested – Plot Summary
    The story is told in switching first-person narratives between Patience and Sarah. The first part is told by Patience White, a woman of considerable means compared to others in her town. Her father died and left her enough money that she would not have to marry to be cared for. She lives with her brother and his wife and children, in a room she has to herself, something her sister-in-law Martha considers an unnatural privilege. Patience paints Biblical scenes as a pastime, and helps Martha with the children sometimes. They do not get along well.
    Patience has known of Sarah Dowling for a while since Sarah is a scandalous character to some, wearing pants and doing men’s work. Sarah has a family of sisters and her father trained her to do men’s work since he had no sons. Intrigued one day when Sarah delivers firewood to the White household, and to flout Martha, Patience invites Sarah into her part of the house and socializes with her. Sarah divulges that she plans to set out by herself and go west and buy her own farm. Not having the heart to tell her that she will not have the opportunity to do it, Patience indulges Sarah and tells her she wants to come along. In the midst of planning the trip west, Sarah admits she feels for Patience, and although too aware of the danger, Patience also admits her attraction for Sarah.
    Sarah returns to her much poorer home, where she lives with her large family in a one-room cabin. She tells her sister Rachel that she’s going west with Patience as her mate, and Rachel, upset by being replaced to go west by Patience, tells their father who beats Sarah, then drags her to Patience’s home to demand to know the nature of their relationship. Faced with having to admit their acts in front of witnesses, Patience denies she feels anything for Sarah and that it was all a game.
    The narrative switches to Sarah’s perspective as she cuts off all her hair, renames herself “Sam”, takes an axe and walks west alone, healing from the beatings her father gave her (no harm meant, he says). After a few experiences that demonstrate the risks of freedom, Sam takes up with a traveling Parson who goes town to town selling books in a horse-drawn rig he sleeps in. He teaches Sam to defend himself against boys in towns, to cook, teaches him about the¬†Bible¬†and other cultures, but most importantly, teaches him to read. In time, Parson admits he’s attracted to Sam and when he tries to seduce Sam, Sarah admits her true identity.
    Away about six months, Sarah heads home again as Parson heads towards New York, his home. Patience arrives the next day to casually invite her to Sunday dinner. Sarah accepts, and their relationship starts again after Patience admits she lost her courage. They carry on their relationship, Sarah visiting Patience on Sundays, sometimes bringing a sister or her mother, but when they are caught embracing with their¬†bodices¬†open by Martha, Patience’s brother tells them it’s time for them to go.
    They head to¬†New York City¬†with brother Edward’s blessing. Thinking Sarah is lower-class, a man on the ship assaults her, but Patience rescues her and teaches her the necessary points of being a lady. They lodge with the captain and in their first locked room alone, consummate their relationship. They meet up with the Parson again and decide that upstate New York in Greene County will be their destination, where land is cheap and they can live in peace.
    They arrive in Greene County and they negotiate the purchase of a small farm, plant their crop and begin their life together.

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