Book Review: ‘Jay Loves Lucy’ and ‘Not the Swiss Family Robinson’

‘Not the Swiss Family Robinson’ by Fiona Cooper.

I bought this book years ago when I first fell in love with Rotary Spokes (another character by Fiona Cooper) but it’s been on my bookshelf waiting. I finally read it, a few decades later!
It is well worth a read. In fact, it’s totally great if you’re interested in queer herstory and want to appreciate the women who struggled their way out of the closet to become today’s old dykes (Although rather than ‘old’, I prefer ‘wise, experienced and gorgeously mature’), and great to get a taste of the world we stomped through.

This is a tale full of love, lust and lesbo-power stuck in a place that really isn’t very nurturing! It’s set in the late 1980, a time and place where the word ‘nurturing’ was never used. This book was very true to the world in which I grew up: A dark dank world full of heterosexual, misogynous, Christian values and an utter lack of knowledge that lesbianism (ism!) was a thing.

I really felt for the poor wee lassy in the tale. She was so naive and totally making up her sexuality as she went along! I was the same. Where I grew up, there was no name, no words, no role models to describe the feelings that buzzed away in me (well until I sought out ‘the wimmin’). Still they were older and somewhat wiser, so writers like Fiona Cooper really helped me to give me some queer context and ground myself.

What I also love about this book is how the relationships aren’t ‘the norm’. How could being with women being with women be anything else but ‘other’? Back then the norm was literally heterosexual monogamous marriage for ever and ever a-fucking-men. It seems bizarre that now this model is still part of the queer world. As someone who got swept along with the ‘Yeah, okay, let’s get married’ nonsense (and then happily ‘Let’s get divorced’), I do understand the pull, but that heteronormativity just doesn’t sit right. I’m sure it does for some (?) but not for me. And reading this book reminded me that attraction always just comes down to how we interact. Which is pretty beautiful right, well unless you’re the young lass in the book, but I’m sure she grew up and laughed about the backwardness of the place she escaped from.

The second book was also by Fiona Cooper- ‘Jay Loves Lucy’. Oh my dear goddesses! What a shocker. Both the women in the book are utterly co-dependent and it’s scary to see.

Lucy is a great depiction of a self-centred, arrogant, emotionally inept, soul-sucker. Just awful. Sure, she did say no to Jay, but then went back on that, back and forward, and back and forward again. Confused and confusing. As for Jay, well, she is an utter idiot. She makes being in love a ridiculous comedy of nonsense, and then she puts her undiscerning craziness on the next poor sucker she meets. It reminded me of one of the golden rules of being a dyke: Never fall in love with a straight woman, it’ll end in tears.

But that aside, again it described that world so well. I remember lesbians like that! But I didn’t really spend much time with them in real life, and didn’t really like the characters in this book either. In short, I don’t think this one is worth the read, unless you want to be put off dating women.

What I do recommend is you read ‘Rotary Spokes’ by Fiona Cooper instead. From what I remember, that’s fun.

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