A complex transgender love story that mixes selfishness and compassion.

Housewife

HOME-REMAKING IN A TRANSGENDER MARRIAGE

A woman grapples with a new reality after her husband comes out as a transwoman in this detailed debut memoir of marriage and transformation.

Collier was a happily wed mother leading a normal life with two children and a loving husband named Fred. When a fire ruined their home, Collier and her family were safe, but the tragedy seemed to mark an ominous beginning to an even bigger change: Fred confessed that he wanted to live life as a woman. Thrown into a spiral of doubt and fear, the couple struggled to find the tools they needed to survive. When one therapist believed Fred’s aspiration was merely an episode of past trauma that needed to be worked out, Collier was relieved, but it turned out not to be the case. Finally they discovered true help, and Collier’s spouse found her new name, Seda, and herself. But the author was distracted by the larger questions that such a transition imposed upon the couple: would they have sex? Was Collier now a lesbian? What had become of the husband she loved so dearly? As Seda evolved, Collier had to define her family anew, co-parenting and coming out as the wife of a transwoman. Eventually, the couple decided to physically separate, with Collier falling in love again. Despite these adventures, the author returned home to Seda, where they created a new definition of family upon the foundation of the love that they started with. Collier, a natural storyteller, delivers detailed dialogue and engrossing scenes, including “snapshots” of her memories over the years. While she explicitly wants to write a book for the partners of transwomen, the memoir threatens to capsize under its own self-centeredness in the face of Seda’s transition, which can be painful to read. There are moments of grace when Collier finds empathy (“Who was I to tell him how to live?” she wonders), but it takes several chapters for the author to embark on her own journey, which gives Seda enough space for hers. The chaos of watching these characters form a family again is all the more tender when others, such as Collier’s mother, express love for Seda. A glossary of terms and an offering of resources attempt to ground this memoir in service rather than exploration.

A complex transgender love story that mixes selfishness and compassion.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Abbondanza Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2016

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once...

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

In Baldacci’s 19th (True Blue, 2009, etc.), boy and girl monster-hunters meet cute.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous—spearheads the first, an ad hoc group of monster-hunting vigilantes. Studly, tall Shaw (no first name supplied) is point guard for a rival team, shadowy enough to leave the matter of its origin ambiguous. While their respective teams reconnoiter and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly these are drawn to each other in the time-honored Hollywood fashion. Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favor. The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team-members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus, singularly inopportune since, as monsters go, Waller rises to the second coming of Caligula—ample testimony furnished by a six-page, unsparingly detailed torture scene. In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

The characters are paper thin, the plot twists mostly telegraphed, but the betting here is that the Baldacci army will once again show the stuff it’s made of.

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-56408-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Avon A/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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