PASSIONS BETWEEN WOMEN by Emma Donoghue

PASSIONS BETWEEN WOMEN

British Lesbian Culture 1668-1801
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An impressive piece of scholarship that seeks to bring passion into the lesbian history of late 17th and 18th century England. Closely reading the literature of the period, novelist Donoghue (Stir-Fry, 1994) gives her reader meticulously detailed evidence that during the years 16681801 lesbianism was popularly represented. Contrary to historians who have a tendency to dilute and dismiss bonds between women as sisterly affection, Donoghue asserts that women who loved women during the 18th century did not only have friendship on their minds. While the word lesbian could be used in the context of friendship, the term ``tribade'' (from Greek, meaning ``a woman who rubs'') was most commonly used to describe any woman capable of enjoying sex with another. With chapters on female hermaphrodites, female husbands, cross-dressing, romantic friendship, and erotica, Donoghue explores a range of female relationships from the platonic to the sexual. She does not shy away from the controversial when she examines the erotica of the time (almost exclusively written by men) and gains affirmation from the lesbian eroticism found in a literature other feminists might deem offensive. A lesbian herself, Donoghue's investment in her own text makes it all the more engaging. She deserves credit for making a distinction between lesbian and bisexual history and explicitly states that her book is a ``shared'' one. She also does well to emphasize that gay male history and lesbian history should be studied separately. While her prose is crisp and sometimes refreshingly ironic, Donoghue falls into the academic trap of overloading her reader with exhaustive textual examples. At times slow going, but nonetheless offering historical affirmation of an erotic and romantic lesbian presence during this period.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-017261-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995




Kirkus Interview
Emma Donoghue
April 3, 2017

In Emma Donoghue’s new middle-grade novel, The Lotterys Plus One, Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed "good girl" of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant "Grumps," who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn't been part of any of their lives. Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps's clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household....He's worse than just tough to get along with—Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs? “Full of clever names and wordplay, this engaging tale is moving without veering into sentimentality,” our critic writes in a starred review. “For all the Lotterys’ apparent eccentricity, the novel delves into universal themes of family relationships that will resonate with readers from all backgrounds.” View video >

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