Lesbian fiction in WWII England: “A Wartime Love” by Shiralyn Lee

It’s a relief to be able to read a good, “old-fashioned” novel that’s neither sexually explicit nor specifically aimed at young adults — just a regular, grownup book about suffering bravely through war together and coming out into the sunshine on the other side, like the plenty of books straight people have like this — only, about two women in love instead. (I don’t have anything against sex, but there are lots of straight books without it so it’s nice to have the reminder that our stories don’t NEED a sex scene to be worthwhile.)

A Wartime Love is so full of “What it was like for the British during the period of German attacks in WWII” details that it can almost be read just on that level by itself–what it was like to have young men to worry about overseas, or to have American soldiers hanging around, or to have your workplace completely destroyed in the middle of your job, as well as more minor but no less evocative details like faking a Christmas turkey with sausage in the shape of a turkey and parsnips for legs, or milk bottles still standing in place on the stoop when the building they’d been delivered to was bombed to rubble. Anyway, I’m sure there are a bazillion “what we endured” books like this, but this one has HAPPY LESBIANS so it’s special and different.

So, yeah, you can safely read this if you only pick up f/f novels if they have a HEA. They’re gonna be okay. Even the brief moment of sisterly revulsion goes away really fast, just push forward when you get to it because it goes in an unexpected direction that really made a lot of sense.

There are definitely upsetting bits, though: TW for pregnancy loss and pregnancy in general, and for, well, the kind of death and destruction you’d expect for a book in this setting. But the girls are okay; I honestly wouldn’t have read it without that assurance 😛

And the bits where it’s just them, together, being emotional rang REALLY true and felt exactly like what that feels like. 🙂

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About Shira

Queer Jewish feminist author
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6 Responses to Lesbian fiction in WWII England: “A Wartime Love” by Shiralyn Lee

  1. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for your comments. I shall share this blog on my networks 🙂
    I spent extensive months researching every detail, even documentaries on bombing houses, so that I could get a true feeling of what people sadly went through.

    • Shira says:

      I could really tell you’d done your homework. It had that “I’ve read and listened so much that the storytelling I’m doing is just happening naturally at this point” feel to it.

      I think many Americans, especially under a certain age, don’t have a clue what y’all went through, to be honest.

    • Shira says:

      (disclaimer that obviously my folks were going through their own shit at the hands of the same villains, but)

  2. annapauthor says:

    The book sounds great! And, Shira, I agree that we Americans do not fully grasp what this was like. I have a British friend who was a little girl hiding under a table during the air raids, and to this day it’s a hard memory.

    • Shira says:

      One of the recent Narnia movies added a bombing scene that wasn’t in the book because it didn’t HAVE to be. Britain knew what had happened to it. An American audience watching in the 21st century? It was damn helpful to have that in there, to provide some context.

  3. Pingback: Link Round Up: August 17 – 23 | The Lesbrary

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