Book review: Greetings from Janeland: Women write more about leaving men for women, Candace Walsh and Barbara Straus Lodge, editors

Walsh, Candace and Barbara Straus Lodge, eds.. Greetings from Janeland: Women write more about leaving men for women. Cleis Press. 2017. $10.99. 254p. E-book. 9781627782357.

“When I told my husband that something was happening and I wanted permission to see what it was, what I didn’t know that I meant was I had just fallen in love with someone and was wondering if he would mind if I poured gasoline all over the fire.” – Krista Fretwell’s “Kama Sutra”

Despite what the subtitle suggests, many of the stories in Greetings from Janeland are more complicated than a woman leaving her husband for a particular woman. There is no one way to enter Janeland, and life here is different for everyone.

In “Straightening Myself Out,” Pat Crow leaves a disrespectful husband to take a chance seeking out a new life as a single 59-year-old baby dyke. In “Here’s to Me,” Jeannot Jonte Boucher opens up a traditional Catholic marriage to pursue a relationship with a transgender woman and to explore Boucher’s own gender identity. The collection ends on a high note in Susan White’s “Teaching Out,” which brings forward the question of how we can choose to model alternatives to compulsory heterosexuality for the upcoming generations.

Collections of stories from different authors often suffer from a loss of momentum. Not so for Greetings from Janeland. Rather than making it feel disjointed, the variety of styles and perspectives was what compelled me to keep reading to the end. Some stories had me in tears, while others inspired the sort of disdainful reaction you have when you meet someone you definitely don’t want in your life. Reading them all in sequence made me appreciate Walsh and Lodge’s curatorial efforts, as they reflected such a wide sample of the community. The diversity of the authors’ backgrounds, histories, and values made sure there was something relatable for every reader—a real feat.

I would recommend this to readers who enjoyed Dear John, I love Jane, and would encourage libraries to carry it—particularly since so many of the authors contained within its pages mentioned having been impacted by the first in the series. In addition to being a great resource for women considering leaving a man to pursue a more authentic life, it is thoroughly enjoyable for anyone interested in later-in-life coming out stories.

Ashley Dunne

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