THE HEART'S PROGRESS by Claudia Bepko

THE HEART'S PROGRESS

A Lesbian Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Though flawed, this is an emotionally honest and compelling memoir from the coauthor of Too Good for Her Own Good (1990). It chronicles the experience of a bleak family life in which both parents are alcoholics; her confused feelings as a young girl for a nun, then a priest; her passionless marriage to a man; coming to terms with loving women; her long, tempestuous, committed relationship to one woman, Alice, and that relationship's end; and the return of Bepko's long-lost college lover, Molly. Her perspective on love's conflicts is frank and complex; fights and inner turmoil are well-rendered, and she never makes herself look implausibly right. She chronicles some problems that have not been written about enough: the specific conflicts two women lovers can face when they work together, for example (she and Alice, both therapists, had a joint practice and wrote books together). She also describes deaths in her biological family--her grandmother, father, and mother--and, in one of the memoir's most affecting sections, describes a car crash in which she was responsible for another woman's death. However, some omitted parts of the story (though probably left out to protect people) leave glaring holes. Early on, for example, she alludes to Alice's being a recovering alcoholic; she never explains the impact this had on their relationship, yet when they break up, she makes the drinking central, declaring that she will stay away from anyone who has had a problem with alcohol. And sometimes she gives in too easily to conventional wisdom--uncritically spouting, for instance, the notion of ``straight privilege'' (that is, the privileges heterosexual women derive from ``being with a successful man''), which many feminists recognize as complicated given the remaining social inequalities between men and women. Though overly elliptical in parts, an admirable memoir of emotional struggle. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-670-85921-4
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997




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