Book Reviews

Singing Her Alive by Diana K. Perkins at Friesen Press

Genre Lesbian / Historical / Multi-Generation / Romance / Drama
Reviewed by Ron Fritsch on 30-August-2012

Book Blurb

After losing her grandmother, Sarah returns to help clear out the old homestead. She discovers several diaries and learns her grandmother has a surprising secret past. As her grandmothers past unfolds in the diaries, her own future plans become entangled. Will the past reach out to touch her in the present and influence her decision to either stay in the old homestead or return to her life in the city?

Book Review

Singing Her Alive is the first novel Diana K. Perkins has published. As I write this review, her book has already won seven awards, most of them for LGBTQ fiction. Perkins well deserves all of them.

This is a three-generation story filled with the richly detailed lives of people I’d like to know. Sarah, who is in her early thirties and single and has a good job in Boston, returns to her home village in the Willimantic River valley in Connecticut for the funeral of her grandmother, Rebecca. This part of the story is set in the Sixties.

Sarah helps her mother, Beatrice, clean out the house Rebecca, Beatrice’s father Peter, and a “housekeeper” known as “Aunt Doris” lived in. She finds journals Doris and Rebecca kept from the time they met in 1898 in Willimantic, then a thriving mill town. They were roommates in a strictly ruled house for young women working in a mill. Young farm or small-town women such as Doris and Rebecca sought a mill job because it paid them much more than they could earn for any other work they might do—and gave some of them a desirable independence from men.

As she reads the journals, Sarah comes upon one surprise after the other in the story of her grandparents, Doris, and Peter’s friend William, who owned a nearby farm—and their descendants, Beatrice, Sarah, William’s son Michael, and Michael’s son Harry.

This is also the story of the attempt of the four older people to combat the intolerance of their time with a bold and breathtaking subterfuge.

Even as that story proceeds, Sarah begins a close friendship with Alice, the attractive mechanic who comes out to fix the flat tire Sarah endures at the end of her trip home for her grandmother’s funeral. Having decided to buy from her mother the house Doris, Rebecca, and Peter lived in, Sarah ultimately realizes she has to choose between Alice and Harry.

I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next in this novel. And yet the gravity of it appealed to me even more. Many of our ancestors must’ve led versions of the lives Doris, Rebecca, Peter, and William chose to lead in 1898. Some of them—most of them, I’d hope—might’ve gotten away with it.

Singing Her Alive is their story.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 224 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 28-July-2011
Price $6.45 Kindle, $15.59 paperback
Buy Link