Curious Wine – Katherine V. Forrest

curious wine
“Nothing interesting can possibly happen in a cabin full of women.” So ends the first chapter of Curious Wine, Katherine V. Forrest’s classic novel of the early 80’s in which 6 women bring their personal issues to a beautiful Tahoe cabin for a weeks skiing. This was an era when encounter groups were in, padded shoulders were the norm and lesbian romance was definitely still in the closet.

Diane is depressed about breaking up with her boyfriend. As she meets the group she instantly bonds with the gorgeous but cool Lane, high powered lawyer with a trail of downtrodden men. The remaining four women are led by Liz, the angry and bullish “first wife”, Chris her uptight and narrow-minded spinster sister, Millie the aging hippy and Madge, who’s too scared of the truth to find out if she is being betrayed.  Add into the mix a large quantity of alcohol and some grass; a meltdown is bound to happen.

Needless to say the encounter games don’t go to well, feelings of pain and anger get out of hand and rather than bonding the group ends up hurting each other with truths they don’t want to know. Out of which the sensitive Diane reaches out to Lane for comfort. One thing leads to another and suddenly they are on the verge of a sexual encounter.

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Let me start by saying I LOVE THIS BOOK. Yes its short and obvious and so unrealistic.. but i love the characters, the story is so sweet, and I can fogive the dated games, clothes and behaviour because of what it represents.

Curious Wine was Katherine V. Forrest’s first novel, published in 1983 and is without a doubt a classic. It is one of the groundbreaking novels of its generation, it moved away from the pulp fiction into romance, was solidly about women and was written by a lesbian for lesbians.

Today many reviews criticize it for the soppy and cheesy sex, the paucity of terminology and the unlikelihood of two ‘straight’ women having sex, falling in love and deciding to live ‘happily ever after’ in 3 days. People – normally women who probably weren’t born in 1983 – complain about the ridiculous encounter games, the dated fashions and the shallow plot and characterisation.

Katherine V ForrestBut to do so is to take the book out of context. This is a first novel written in a virtual vacuum of lesbian romance. In 1983 women did try to bond in stupid games, they were this nasty to each other – they thought they were ‘helping’ when in retrospect they were destroying each other. At that time there was practically no current lesbian fiction – the pulp fiction of the 50’s and 60’s was often homophobic and frequently written for a sleezy male audience. And the sexual norm of the day was either Deep Throat style porn or uptight bosom heaving Mills and Boon.

If you want to read an novel full of deep characters agonizing over coming out, or compare this to modern sexplicit girl on girl action you will be disappointed. But it is a great novel. It is well worth the read – at 160 pages it wont even take too long. And it deserves the title classic for its groundbreaking exploration of a woman’s reaction to her first lesbian encounter.

This book started my journey into Lesbian Romance and all the wonderful stories I have read since. But far more importantly – this book, along with a scarce few such as Ann Bannon, Isabel Miller, Jane Rule and Rita Mae Brown, – this book started the genre of Lesbian Romance that we all spend so much time reading, reviewing and living.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • First published 1983
  • Publisher: SILVERMOON BOOKS (1 Oct 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1872642020
  • ISBN-13: 978-1872642024
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