Love, Zena Beth

The GLBTRT has been reviewing books and movies in its newsletter since the early 1990s. Trace the evolution of queer publishing through these historic reviews. This review was originally published in  Vol. 5. No. 1, Spring 1993. 

Love, Zena Beth. By Diane Salvatore. Naiad Press, 1992. $18.95. (ISBN 1-56280-015-9)

When twenty-two year old Joyce Ecco, reporter on assignment for a New York City weekly, meets thirty-nine year old Zena Beth Brazer, writer and icon of the lesbian community, it’s instant infatuation. Shortly after a dinner and evening of mutual pleasure, Zena Beth invites Joyce to move in to the rural North Carolina ranch, a move described as “winning the lesbian lotto.”

In the process, Joyce breaks up with her lover, takes a job at a local daily paper, and in a late addition to the plot, becomes involved in a gay rights bill and the outing of a local, homophobic politician.

Much of the plot revolves around Joyce’s attempts to understand Zena Beth, and the relationship Zena Beth had with Helena Zoe, a noted lesbian skier. It is disappointing that none of the characters, though sympathetically drawn, are well defined, and motivations for their actions are unclear. This may be due, in part, to the fact that Love, Zena Beth is just over 200 pages long.

This roman a clef is, however, exceptionally well-written and entertaining, and is one of the very few books that Naiad has published in hardcover. It is notable that there is an average of one moderate-to heated, erotic scene every thirty or so pages.

Love, Zena Beth is suitable for libraries with collections of gay/lesbian popular literature, and for any collection what would profit frOm the addition of a well-written, entertaining, lesbian-positive novel.

Reviewed by Martha E. Stone
Treadwell Library
Boston,MA

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