Other People's Fiction, Recs, Reviews

FF Friday: Passing Strange by Ellen Klages

(F/F Friday is a project recently started by Rachel Manija Brown, described thusly: “Every Friday, review, recommend, or discuss an FF book, short story, or other work.” There is also a community on Dreamwidth.)

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages

I read this because of a recent rec at [community profile] fffriday and really liked it! It’s set in San Francisco, mostly in the early 1940s, with some fantasy elements, but mostly historical fiction strongly grounded in the city’s early lesbian scene. (I’ve been researching SF for something I’m writing under a different pen name that has a few chapters in the city in an earlier decade, and research materials or even fiction set in SF in the first few decades of the past century is really hard to come by, so that was one reason why I wanted to read this — just to get a better feel for an early San Francisco. And it didn’t disappoint; the sense of place is really strong.)

Romance is typically rather formulaic (for a good reason, obviously!), but with this one I really couldn’t figure out where it was going, or even who the focus couple was going to be at first. It was twisty and surprising, and the entire cast of characters were very vivid and believable, especially given how many of them there are and that it’s only a novella-length space to develop them in. Definitely recommended if you like historical fiction. (Though it doesn’t sugar-coat the historical era either, just fyi; it’s an optimistic book and is a romance with an HEA, but there’s some pretty rough stuff getting there, so if you’re looking for pure light escapism this might not be the thing.)

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