Juliana by Vanda is a story about finding yourself and your place in the world. It is not just a fancy World War II romance story; this is a story that proudly declares these timeless words—To thine own self be true.
Alice Huffman and her childhood friends leave their hometown in Long Island to begin their adult lives and achieve their dreams of success in New York City. It is 1941, a year that is ripe with possibilities and endless opportunities but things do not work out the way Alice has planned. Alice puts her dreams of being an actress on hold because she was told that she doesn’t have what it takes to become famous. Alice decides to work at a dead-end job until she can achieve her dream and, to her, life is still wonderful because she has the support of her friends and her boyfriend.
Alice is captivated by Juliana from the first glance and Alice develops feelings for Juliana that she has no name or frame of reference for. She begins to lead a double life in order to keep the ‘regular’ world and the gay world apart. Will Alice be able to continue this delicate balancing act and will she still be able to hold onto the one her soul truly desires?
Alice Huffman, also known as ‘Al’ to her dearest friends, is a teenaged girl who grew up on a potato farm in Long Island. She left her home in the small town where she grew up because she has big dreams of being an actor in New York. Her naiveté is endearing but it is also infuriating to her friends, associates and Juliana as well. I really adore and admire Alice’s strength to hold on to her dreams and push through the numerous difficulties that came her way. I must say, Alice has found a place in my heart and I know I will be carrying her around with me for a long while.
Juliana is a well-known singer in the clubs of New York. She is a beguiling beauty who seems to have it all. At first, I was weary of Juliana because she came off as a selfish person, however, as the story unfolded I got to experience the many layers that make Juliana so unique. Just like Alice, I became enamored with Juliana as well.
The Writing Style
Vanda’s style of writing is unique because she blended poetry and prose together to create this awesome story! The dialogue flowed seamlessly between each character and I appreciated the vivid descriptions of New York City in the 1940’s and the culture of that period in time as well.
What I really loved the most about this story is the author’s skill in creating vibrant characters. Vanda weaves the tales of the characters alongside historical facts and she turns the story into an awesome literary tapestry.
Please be aware that this story has scenes that contain suicide as well as violence against lesbians and gays.
This story was created for everyone in the LGBT community because it reveals the struggles and the circumstances these wonderful men and women had to endure at that time. It certainly deserves to be read many times over, to remind all of us about our persistent desire to live, love and thrive despite the widespread homophobia and the irrational fears that surround us. In addition, this is a beautiful story of our history/herstory about the lives of the LGBT men and women who served their country with pride during World War II. If you enjoy heart-warming LGBT historic novels that are a medley of humor, sorrow, passionate moments and elation, then this novel definitely belongs in your hands or on your kindle.
Excerpt from Juliana by Vanda
The musicians switched to a swing and they only played the wrong notes a few times. I danced up a storm, doing all my best clumsy moves—drinking did that to me—while Danny did his quiet little steps.
Dickie was going wild and Virginia was making a gallant effort to keep up. He started doing a solo and mixed in some tap. Then, he surprised Virginia by lifting her over his head and putting her down behind him. Everyone formed a circle around him, watching. Then…
A woman’s voice. Singing. The sound like warm milk slipping down the whole of my body. I moved away from the others to get closer to the stage. And there she was. In a long black silk gown that caressed her slender form, long black gloves, and coal black hair that drifted down to her shoulders in soft waves. Her lips were painted a deep red.
Vaguely, I heard Danny complain, but all I could see was this… this person. She’d replaced the musicians with new ones, good ones, and she was leaning against the piano caressing a red rose to her cheek as she sang “My Romance” in a way I’d never heard it before. The chatter of conversations stopped; all eyes were on her. She smiled at the young piano player and glided toward the edge of the stage.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” Max said, standing between Danny and me. “She’s my protégé.”
“Who is she?” Dickie asked.
“Juliana,” Max said.
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- ISBN number: 9780692727669
- Publisher: New Sands Studio Press
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Note: I received a free review copy of Juliana by Vanda.