Title: The Revelation of Beatrice Darby
Author Name & Publisher: Jean Copeland (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: April 21, 2015 – 264 pgs
How much courage does it take to be yourself? In a decade when good girls conform to strict family and social expectations, Beatrice Darby is about to find out. After a harmless admiration for her older boss, sophisticated Abby Gill, blossoms into a full-blown crush, Beatrice is startled to discover why she’s never felt like other girls. She soon learns the necessity of “passing,” the shame of secret “sin,” and the pressure to meet family expectations, all while suffering the angst of unrequited love and the disastrous end to her friendship with college roommate and future sister-in-law, Gwen Ridgeway. When Abby reappears years later, can Beatrice go against all she’s ever known to be happy? Will she have to choose between honesty and her family?
This story of Bea and her struggle to accept her homosexuality and find a place in the world is absolutely wonderful. As a teenager she falls for the fascinating Miss McGill but finds it hard to understand what and who she is. As we follow her to college she meets Gwen and becomes totally besotted but realises she must never tell her. As it is set in the late 50s the consequences would be dire if people found out. She tries to ‘pass’ but this is such a painful experience for her and the writer is skilled at making us empathise totally. As Bea grows as a woman and eventually has a proper relationship she begins to see that she is not a freak and her anger is stoked.
I loved this book and was so engrossed in it I couldn’t put it down until it was finished. Bea was such an interesting character and her life was that of many gay people of the time- hiding, shame, rejection. In the end though it was uplifting and an amazing first novel for Jean Copeland.
Jean Copeland is a writer and English/language arts teacher at an alternative high school in Connecticut. Taking a chance on a second career in her thirties, Jean graduated summa cum laude from Southern Connecticut State University with a BS in English education and an MS in English/creative writing. She has published numerous short fiction and essays online and in print anthologies. In addition to the thrill of watching her students discover their talents in creative writing and poetry, she enjoys the escape of writing, summer decompression by the shore, and good wine and conversation with friends. Organ donation and shelter animal adoption are causes dear to her heart. The Revelation of Beatrice Darby is Jean’s debut novel.