Emma Donoghue, author of the popular lesbian fiction work, Landing (reviewed here in mid-January) and the best selling historical fiction novel Slammerkin, has also written a work examining women couples in literature. It’s as much a page turner as her fiction!
The book is titled, Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature. It was actually published in September of 2011 by Cleis Press. In it, Donoghue examines the portrayal of love between two women throughout English literature. This isn’t a history of all of the books that have featured a women loving women plot. Rather, it’s a look at the plots themselves. By examining literally 100s of years of writing, from great literature to pulp, by many well known authors (male and female) published in dozens of genres in many periods, she was able to discern six plot variations involving desire between women. All books involving a close and/or romantic relationship between women tend to revolve around one of the 6 plot themes.
Each of the six plots variations gets it’s own detailed chapter. Every important point is numbered and can be looked up in the notes pages after the end of the last chapter. There you’ll find 100s of detailed references to the books and stories that were reviewed to compile this work. After the notes, and as if it were not enough, Donoghue provides a reading list to assist the reader in researching for herself her hypothesis and its proofs. This alone would keep my nightstand full of books for years to come!
This is also fully indexed. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that throughout the book, there are some truly great illustrations. It’s worth leafing through this just to see those if you’re really not a fan of the theory behind the fiction and literature that you read and enjoy.