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on 1 September 2016
Mildly entertaining but not a great book.
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When the publishers first put this pulp novel out they knew that they would be hitting two markets, the male market looking for some tittilation, and the lesbian market; what no one could have foreseen though was that it would become a bestseller. Now this is known as the first book in the cult series 'The Beebo Brinker Chronicles' This novel and the following in the series spoke to America's lesbians, rather like those French women stuck in unfulfilled marriages flocked to 'Madame Bovary'.

When Laura first starts college she soon falls in with the sexy and intelligent tease, Beth. Laura soon finds that she has an awakened desire for Beth, and that Beth seems to have strong feelings for her. It is not too long before the girls are having an affair, but at the same time Beth has fallen for a male student, Charlie thus embroiling her in a love triangle. At the same time Beth's best and oldest friend, Emily has been making a bit of a scandal with her boyfriend, eventually with them both caught in bed together.

Ultimately the story centres on Beth and Laura, and whether Beth will ride off into the sunset with Laura, or stay with Charlie. To us nowadays the love scenes are very tame indeed, but at the time this book was considered sleazy and pornographic. You can however feel the underlying lust throughout the book and it is much better than a lot of the more modern adult novels. You really get to know and care for the main characters, and you get a feel of the time that this was written in, making it ideal for those studying that era for social history. Indeed in America this and the other books are on the curriculum for those who do gay and lesbian studies as it shows what life was like pre-Stonewall. So saying though you don't have to be gay or lesbian, or a perv to enjoy this book it is such a good read. If you want to get a feel for the era and read something that was considered scandalous when first published then read this. You may find like me, that in the end you want to read the whole series. Also included in this book is an introduction that is very worth reading, by the author.
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on 22 July 2010
OK, first up full disclosure, I'm a straight man. Was I reading for prurient reasons, well, if I was I was looking in the wrong place. The "sex" scenes are hardly erotic by modern standards.

What I did find was a beautifully written story about the tensions between love and the demands of a restrictive society, when one's heart simply wont follow the rules that have been laid down by others. It is hard today to understand the pressures to conform when the love you feel is not just deemed immoral but illegal as well but, after reading this I have a clearer view. Ironically the example of a woman who "falls" is a straight woman who, inadvertently, bares her breasts at a dance and then gets caught in bed with her boyfriend. For these transgressions her life is destroyed and she is condemned to eternal disgrace. It is against this background that one of the two main characters, Beth tells the other, her lover Laura, not to be all high and mighty, that what they are doing, their love, however pure in their hearts, would be seen as far, far worse.

As soon as I started the book I was engrossed and ended up reading it cover to cover in one sitting. As a story of the pleasures and heartaches of a love that "dare not tell its name" it transcends its time and medium. As Ms Bannon explains in the forward it could only be published at the time because "pulp" fiction passed under the radar and no one noticed. Fifty odd years later in these post Stonewall days we should be grateful that she found a way.

Whatever your gender or sexual orientation I cannot recommend this book enough.
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on 5 September 2013
Ann Bannon is my favourite Lesbian pulp writer. Her characters are just so full of emotion and even though it was written in the 50s it reminds me a lot of my own experiences growing up and coming out. Odd girl out was the first book she wrote and it was the last one of hers that I needed to read. It was really strange to read the first story about Laura and Beth having seen them in later books having grown so much. As such I think I found them a little less interesting than I probably should have as I knew what was going to happen to them.

What actually struck me the most in this story was actually the story of their roommate Emily and her troubled relationship with Bud. This was the first time I've read a lesbian pulp where I realised it was happening in the same world as the beats. Bud was a guy who'd been at university for 7 years, seemed to be no closer to graduation and spent all his time playing jazz. Emily followed him around and was hopelessly in love with him. She had the reputation for being wild as she didn't hide her love enough for the liking of the university. Even though all the other girls were sleeping with their boys (or girls) she was the one that got caught and expelled. I felt sorry for her and felt that the her story really added to the depth of the book.

When I finished this I wanted to go back and re-read all these stories. See once again how everyone's lives progressed. I think this was definitely the weakest in the series. But still one of the best lesbian pulps I've read. I really love the way Ann Bannon writes.
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on 1 March 2014
I don't need to add anything regarding this story or Ann Bannon's undoubted influence on lesbian fiction HOWEVER I have recently re-read my Kindle copy,, purchased in April 2012, and have finally decided to comment on the appalling editing of this version.
Whether it has been updated since I bought it I don't know and the "Look inside" preview gives none of the story itself, which is no help.
Suffice to say it is jarring to read a story that is disjointed, missing punctuation with misspelling and word substitutions.
I have the hard copy of this book to compare and can only put this poor quality down to laziness on the part of the editor and proofreader (I assume they exist) of this Kindle edition.
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on 26 February 2013
What can I add to what has been said before. These are seminal books, that while slightly dated compared to today's reality, speak with quiet passion and dignity about the struggles and consequences of following your heart, wherever that might lead you.

The over riding message that I have always taken from these books is to be true to yourself.

A must read.
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