Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 472 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Release Date: February 5th 1998
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Swapped through Paperbackswap.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
I have had this book on my shelf to read for sometime. This ended up being a very well done historical fiction book about a young woman who ends up performing as a masher on stage and throughout that process realizes that she is gay. This is definitely an adult read.
Nancy is absolutely infatuated with the masher (cross-dressing music hall singer) Kitty Butler when she sees Kitty onstage. Nancy ends up becoming Kitty’s dresser and as events progress Nancy eventually takes the stage name Nan King and joins Kitty on the stage. When Kitty begins to shy at her own lesbianism and decides to get married to their male manager, Nan’s heart is broken. Nan leaves the stage and instead walks the streets as a butch roue (a pretty boy prostitute of sorts). While on the streets Nan finds friends and love in unexpected places.
This was a very entertaining, interesting, and engaging read. Nancy has such a straight-forward reaction to finding out that she loves other women; she just accepts that that is how she is and can’t understand other people’s reaction to her sexual orientation. Really Nan’s attitude through the whole book is very interesting; she’s so composed and matter of fact over everything. Despite all she does and all she sees, there are only a couple of times where she feels betrayed and loses her composure.
I also really enjoyed looking into this time in history and getting to see it from a different point of view. GLBT folks have been treated such a wide variety of ways by society throughout the ages and it was interesting to get a historical look into that subculture.
The book is a fun read and very engaging; it’s a long book but I breezed right throughout. I would recommend for adults and older because there is a lot of sex in this book. I mean a lot a lot of sex and most of it is atypical. None of the sex is really gratuitous and I did like that a broad range of lesbian sex is portrayed; by that I mean we see Nan having tender loving sex and we also see her turning tricks for cash.
Overall an excellent historical fiction novel about one young woman’s journey through a stage career, discovering her own sexuality, and surviving. I would recommend to those who are interested in reading a historical fiction that explores both theater and GLBT subculture of the late 1800’s.