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Saturday 26 October 2013

LesBook Review: Beyond the Pale

Now I'm not sure about you, but when you think of lesbian fiction, would you even think to associate it with historical events?

I certainly didn't, but Beyond the Pale proves it can be done.

Beyond the Pale is a novel revolving around the trials and tribulations faced by two young Jewish girls who have to simultaneously face becoming an immigrant and also realising that they are, in fact, gay. (It is not my style to reveal too much of the plot, so I'll leave that up to you!)

From the get-go, this novel's concept is exciting and accurate. Personally, I've never come across another lesbian book that deals with plot lines that intertwine religion, world issues, identity and culture with lesbianism - something that is much easier to find in LGBT movies. (Think I Can't Think Straight and The World Unseen.) However, this book successfully combines a lesbian love story with a piece of historical fiction.

Not only is the plot forever evolving and thought-provoking, the use of language is exceptional. The traditional Jewish lexicon makes for pleasant reading, with the sound of Hebrew and Yiddish words alongside the English sounding like a song in prose.

Unlike many lesbian books, this reads more like a classic novel. The author - who's alias is, fittingly, Elana Dykewomon - is quite clearly educated and passionate: an all-round great writer. And like classic novels, the entire introduction to the book sets the scene. Rather than jumping straight into the usual predictable narrative, the writer gives you the perfect amount of background so that you can really understand the characters and get into their heads.

This book is suitable for all adults - gay, straight, Jewish or not. Those who are Jewish may particularly relate however, as some of the themes and events in the novel particularly resound with real life. That said, anyone who has struggled with their sexual orientation as a result of their culture and upbringing will relate to this book in some way - it really does have something for everyone.

From now on, if someone asks me for a good piece of lesbian fiction to read, I will no doubt be recommending Beyond the Pale.

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