Friday, May 7, 2010

Songs Without Words by Robbi McCoy

“If male homosexuals are called ‘gay,’ then female
homosexuals should be called ‘ecstatic.’” – Roberts’ Rules
of Lesbian Living by Shelly Roberts

I was especially eager to read Robbi McCoy’s wonderfully rich and entertaining Songs Without Words (Bella Books, 2010), because books which include music as an integral element of the plot really appeal to me. I had never read any of Robbi’s books before, so I didn’t know what to expect and I’m ever so happy that I took the plunge.

In this book, I was thinking I’d encounter a relatively thin story line while waiting for episodes of torrid women to women sex. (My, oh my, was I wrong!) Instead I found that Songs Without Words is delightful, heartfelt novel of love lost and love regained. It is filled with feeling, and expresses serious inner conflict, but above all else, it makes you think as well as feel.

I was impressed by Robbi McCoy’s decision to make what could have been a routine lesbian love story into a work that has layers of incredible richness in it. Don’t get me wrong, Songs Without Words is most definitely a love story and a bonafied Lesbian Romance. It is chocked full of longing and desire and has all the elements you are looking for, but there is a difference. In my opinion, the author took a risk, and, to me, it pays off greatly. This book engages in several discourses about the nature of art and artistry, about words versus music, and even throws in a pinch of mythology as well. As a result, Harper, and those she encounters, has wonderful depth. These are people I would really like to know.

We are introduced to Harper Sheridan, who is a librarian by day. This is a profession she seems to love, however we soon find out that Harper is really an artist. Actually, she is an artist in the making.. She loves music and is an amateur musician who plays the cello. On top of that, she is deeply fascinated by what makes an artist tick, and she is ever so hungry to find out just what that is.

As the story begins, we learn a good deal about Harper. One of the things we discover is that she is attempting to “get over” a love affair with a woman named Chelsea Nichols. This is not an easy feat. Clearly it was a special romance. It not only lit the fire of love within Harper, but, perhaps, it is this love that gives her the drive to be truly free in the pursuit of her artfulness.

As I said earlier, a good portion of the book is devoted to the pursuit of her artistic sensibility, which, in the hands of a different author, could easily be clouded by more carnal pursuits. It seems clear that Harper is a woman with talent, but she has often suppressed this aspect of herself. Deep within her lies a need to break loose and truly be free. The only way she can do this is through her art, and we want her to succeed.

Harper is also engaged in a project which aims to discover the specific artistry of several women who have devoted themselves to the pursuit of art-however elusive that may be. It is an exercise she engages in seemingly as a “project”, but we soon learn that this is one of the avenues to Harper’s self discovery. In many ways it becomes another way to discover the artist within.

In an interesting bit of narrative, we are told the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The story talks about a love that is tested by the ability to trust and “not look back”. Trust is one of Harper's issues, and she wonders if she can trust enough to let go of her need to know the "whys" of life. What is it that Harper is looking for? And why does she believe that having a particular woman in her life will complete her?

We also discover that Harper is extremely practical, or at least tries to be. She decides that she actually sets a date in the near future when she will “find time to meet a fascinating woman and fall in love”. Who will this “fascinating woman” be? Will it happen when she wants it too? Well, if you think I am going to spoil it by telling you, forget it. You will need to read this book in order to find out.

Bottom line: if you are looking for a book that will stir your senses as well as your mind, you can’t miss with Songs Without Words. It is a delicious way to get to know an author, and will make you eager for what her next book will offer.

Please check back in the next few days, as I hope to publish an interview with the author. She seems like a fascinating woman who I hope you will get to know better.

Care to comment? Write me at Tell me what you think as well as what you think I should be considering.

Next week I will be talking about  Silver Lake by Peter Gadol. Until then...Happy Reading
Robert Jaquay,

1 comment:

  1. Very thorough review. I totally agree with your assessment. Robbi McCoy is a terrific writer. Song Without Words is enjoyable and thought provoking from beginning to end.