Hannah Stern is a women’s history professor, lonely after her last relationship ended two years ago and tired of her students who aren’t particularly interested in learning. When she hits her local haunt, Sappho’s Bar and Grill, for a drink with her best friend, longtime crush and bartender/mixologist Isabel, she decides that this year, women’s history will be her date to the bar’s Valentine’s Day party. Sappho herself shows up to the party, marking the beginning of the wildest year of her life as Hannah is taken through time by the various women she teaches her students about every day. Hannah knows her trips are somehow connected with the bar, but damned if she can figure out how.
Sappho’s Bar And Grill is Hannah’s book, so we get to know her better than anyone else. Despite her loneliness, she’s a passionate woman, especially when it comes to women’s history. She’s brilliant and determined to help her students see the past from the perspective of the many important women who have come before them. Her bewilderment at travelling through time is understandable, and each trip leads her to grow as a person.
There’s a huge cast of side characters, between Isabel, the patrons at the bar, and the many women of history that Hannah spends time with like Sappho, Radclyffe Hall, and Katharine Lee Bates. Whether you’re a history buff or not, you can still enjoy the book, because Morris does a great job of helping readers understand who the different historical women are without making it feel like you’re reading a text book.
The Writing Style
This book is a serious trip (pun intended). The writing itself is very lean, using the minimum number of words for maximum impact, hurtling the reader back and forth through time as Hannah goes on her travels. Part feminist treatise, part women’s history primer, Sappho’s Bar and Grill is unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
It has an interesting concept that’s executed well, Hannah is great, and I really liked Isabel (I deliberately haven’t said much about her because I really don’t want to spoil anything, but WHOA Isabel).
Not a one.
If you want an unusual book and a break from what you typically read, I recommend Sappho’s Bar and Grill. And honestly, whether you love romance, thrillers, sci fi, historicals, literary fiction, or anything else under the sun, I guarantee you won’t easily find another book like this one.
Excerpt from Sappho’s Bar And Grill by Bonnie J Morris
“Come and eat,”said Isabel. “I’m firing up the grill for a bunch of other women coming in later. They ordered roast vegetables with herbs. I set aside some potatoes and beets for you. And sour cream, of course.”She beckoned to what they called The Nook, a side room with a rustic table for intimate dinners or romantic discussions by candlelight. Lured by the promise of Jewish comfort food, grateful that Isabel always knew what she wanted and needed, Hannah stumbled around the back of the bar and sat down at the hidden wooden table.
But someone was already there. It looked like—
It was Sappho.
No. It wasn’t. How ridiculous. Hannah blinked. It was some woman in a Sappho outfit. Now she recognized Jeri, one of their university friends from the art department, sprawled out in a toga and garland. “Surprise!” she shouted. “How do you like this costume? Isabel told me to bring it over for you. It’s for the Valentine’s Day party! If you want it, you can borrow it.”
“Jesus, Jeri,” Hannah said faintly. “Where did you get something like that?”
“Yeah, looks real, huh? I mean authentic. Got it on eBay, kiddo! I was one of the Muses at the art department graduation party last May, remember? Aren’t you always reminding us that Plato called Sappho the Tenth Muse? So we thought you could wear this next weekend.” Jeri was peeling off the toga and sandals, revealing her more familiar evening yoga clothing. “Ahhh . . . that’s better. You do feel the weight of women’s history in this rig!”
“Hannah feels the weight of it all the time, even in her pajamas,” Isabel called over her shoulder.
“Fuck you,” Hannah returned, quickly adding “I mean, desist, ye mocking toadstool,” and they laughed. “Okay. You’re right. Actually, I do like it. I’ll wear it to the party. After all, I’m between girlfriends, and my longest love really is women’s history. Let’s drink to that. Women’s history will be my date this year!”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781612940977
- Publisher: Bywater Books
Bonnie J Morris Online
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Note: I received a free review copy of Sappho’s Bar And Grill by Bonnie J Morris. No money was exchanged for this review.