I love the way Copeland chooses to tell the story. We go back and forward between present day and the late 70s where Alice welcomes former stay-at-home mom Leslie to the secretarial pool. The two women soon become close friends as Alice exposes Leslie to second wave feminism and opens her world to the possibilities of what her life could be, outside of being a mother and a wife.
Within a short amount of time the women fall into an all-consuming love affair. And although the affair is short, it is passionate and leaves a mark on both their lives. Despite this Leslie won’t risk losing everything by divorcing her husband and Alice needs to make the toughest choice of her life and leave.
In the present day Alice is in mourning over the death of her wife Maureen when she gets an unexpected phone call from Leslie’s daughter, Rebecca. Her mother has had a stroke and keeps repeating Alice’s name. With the hurt of her doomed love affair still haunting her after 40 years, Alice rushes to Leslie’s side not knowing what to expect when she gets there.
When Alice discovers that time hasn’t done anything to douse the flame of passion that she feels for Leslie she needs to ask herself is it too late to pick up where they left off?
Copeland does a fantastic job of creating fully formed, individual characters who are memorable. Each woman is very much her own person. In this book Alice is a divorcee who has figured out her own way in the world and through the ideals of feminism has discovered a confidence in herself that has allowed her to restart her life and consider new paradigms and even a new sexuality without it causing a major crisis in the way that she sees herself.
On the other land, Leslie is married with children and the world of work alone is already a huge challenger to her way of thinking. Adding her new found attraction to Alice, rocks her world and in many ways makes her retreat into what she knows is safe and expected of her.
Both women were well rounded and I felt sympathetic for each.
The Writing Style
Jean Copeland is an accomplished story teller who is able to create a window into bygone eras without making them seem dated or unbelievable. One of the elements that I most love about this book is the way in which the story straddles two different time periods, to tell two parallel stories that come together in the end in the most perfect way.
It is an exquisitely told story that handles the problems that the characters face beautifully. I also love that this story feels universal, a love story of two people who met at the wrong time.
The Second Wave is the kind of story that would do beautifully as a movie and would appeal to a wider audience not just lesbians.
This is also a romance in every sense of the word, in that it has angst (but not overly dramatic) and a happy ending.
There were no major cons for me, apart from the cover not doing the book justice.
I would also like to point out that while this is not a con for me, both main characters could be viewed as bisexual, however the story is 100% lesbian. In the 1970s part of the book Leslie is married to a man while having an affair with Alice, despite this, this is not a story about cheating and that element of the relationship is not glossed over or romanticized, it is simply something that both Leslie and Alice need to deal with.
This is a must-read for anyone who enjoy romances and for those who like stories with a bit of a nostalgic or historic theme.
Excerpt from The Second Wave by Jean Copeland
“What’s the Second Wave?” she whispered to Alice.
“You’ll see,” Alice said, enjoying tantalizing her with anticipation.
“We finally have our fifth member,” Dolores said. “She can be Bella.”
“Bella?” Leslie said, furrowing her brow.
“Bella Abzug, the congresswoman from New York,” Cynthia chimed in. “We’ve all taken on honorary nicknames of our foremothers. You’re the last one, so now our coalition is complete.”
Leslie smiled. “I’m sorry, foremothers of what? Crocheting?”
The room plunged into dead silence. Alice patted Leslie’s hand in solidarity.
“No, feminism,” Cynthia said. “We have a little group. We call ourselves the Second Wave. It’s what
they’re calling the women’s lib movement.”
Poor Leslie appeared clueless.
“The suffragists?” Cynthia said. “Surely, you’ve heard of them. They were the first wave.”
“Of course,” Leslie said. “Susan B. Anthony and women’s right to vote.”
“Right-on,” Kathy said, and the others cheered.
“So is crocheting just a cover?” Leslie asked.
The women tried not to snigger.
“Relax,” Cynthia said. “We don’t need a cover. We’re not commies.”
“We actually do crochet,” Alice said. “Look at that far-out afghan over there on the chair.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781626398313
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Jean Copeland Online
Note: I received a free review copy of The Second Wave by Jean Copeland. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.