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Desert of the Heart Paperback – 31 Jul 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Bella Books; New edition edition (31 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159493035X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594930355
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.3 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 987,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An intelligent and utterly believable novel."

"Cool, clear-eyed, compassionate and unsentimental."
-- "Globe & Mail"

"An intelligent and utterly believable novel."
-- "Joyce Carol Oates"

Book Description

Regarded as a classic of lesbian literature and was groundbreaking when published in 1964. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
That's the only word for the way Jane Rule handles the evolving relationship between Ann, the young girl living in Reno and Evelyn, the older academic woman who turns up to get an instant divorce. If this book does not have you in goose bumps most of the time, I can't think what will. The characters are beautifully painted and contrasted, their actions always seem so very real as they converge and finally surrender to each other. The surrounding characters are equally well defined. Ms Rule has a way of portrayal that speaks from actions and words rather than long descriptions. A thoroughly absorbing book that had me sitting on the edge of my seat at the end. One of her best stories.
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Format: Paperback
Vivien, an English professor at a prestigious Californian university in the 1960's, travel's to Reno in order to obtain a 'quickie' divorce from her husband of some 15 years. Boarding at a ranch-house outside town for 6 weeks (Nevada law states the divorcee must be a resident of the State for at least this period), she meets wildcat casino worker Kay, 'daughter' of the owner of the boarding house. Kay is sexy, vivacious, vibrant and...lesbian. 13 years younger than Vivien, the determined beauty falls in love with the professor and sets about seducing her much to the horror of her 'mother' who's mind is narrowed by the social norms of 1960's America. Vivien can't help herself...
Desert of the Heart was one of the first Lesbian interest books I ever read and is, and always will be, one of my favourites. Jane Rule writes with a style and beauty which captures the reader and inspires pride in no-holds-barred love. Get this book!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A different lesbian love story, impressed that the storyline wasn't typical for this genre. Characters were engaging, not the fasted paced book I gave read but that works well within the gradual storyline.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I love the film "Desert Hearts". More than 30 years after it was made it still stands out as a landmark in lesbian cinema; the love affair depicted so real and so sensuous. Knowing that this was the book upon which the film was based, I was curious to read it. My curiosity has now been satisfied. All I can say is that if you're expecting the book to be anything like the film, you're going to be disappointed. Apart from the setting (a woman comes to Nevada for a quickie divorce and meets a young Casino worker who changes her life) and the names of some of the peripheral characters e.g. Frances, Walter and Silver, the book bears no correlation to the film (or vice versa). There are no scenes that appear in both and no dialogue shared. The two main characters (whose names are different in the book) have different personalities. In the book Evelyn has some experience of love between women (not suggested at all by the film) and Ann, whilst similarly a free-spirit and seductress, is also promiscuous such that she's apparently happy to still sleep with Silver after she takes up with Evelyn. Again, not something suggested by the film. So, if you, like me, love the film, be warned of the differences and approach this with that in mind. If you treat the book as an entirely different work of fiction however, then you can see why this is considered a landmark of its time
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Format: Paperback
A controversial figure in the 1950s and 60s, Jane Rule became an icon for lesbian rights before publishing, in 1964, Desert of the Heart. The book is a sensitive, explorative, deliberately unsensational novel, depicting, almost too decorously, a love affair which begins when Evelyn, a lecturer in English, moves to live in Reno where she wants to obtain a divorce from her husband George. The residential requirements of the time called for a six month stay, so Evelyn moves into a boarding house run by Frances Packer and her son Walter, and there is another guest, Ann, a young, attractive woman who works at one of the casinos as a "change-apron girl." These women had to wander the floor, wearing heavy machines strapped to their rib-cage containing the coins with which to make change for the slot-machine customers. We meet several of Ann's friends, including a man who wants to marry her, but whom Ann has rejected. Ann is also a talented cartoonist and works in her spare time on her art which she sells to various magazines.

When it comes to it, Evelyn takes charge. Rule is not expansive on the mechanics, or even much on the feelings. She wears her insight lightly, which is, perhaps, something to be valued.

The setting is unusual, the sex is incidental, the emotions are sometimes rather fraught, but this is an intriguing read with deftly created characters and a nicely worked set of scenarios. It might not light your fire, but manages the slow simmer of its clandestine relationship very well - decorous to the end and true to its inception in the strange mixture of volatility and innocence that made up 1950s North America.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting story and was probably really important at the time of original publication, nice to read a book without graphic sex scenes.
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