Fishwives by Sally Bellerose is technically the fictional story of two women, Jackie and Regina, but in reality it is so much more than that. The book begins in the near present day (2017) when the two ladies, 89 and 90 years old are starting their day off reminiscing about their lives together. It is a very critical day for them, a day when everything changes, but they don’t realize that as they share their memories with each other, and by extension, with us. These memories will take us all the way back to 1955, when they met during a raid at a gay bar. This was when gays and lesbians could be thrown in jail simply for dancing with someone of the same sex or wearing the clothes of the opposite gender. From here we learn about their life together and apart as they live through a critical time in history for LGBT+ people. We see them as they endure discrimination, homophobia, poverty, and loss, but also friendship, acceptance, and love.
This is a tale that will stay with you long after the tale is done. Their story is like a living history of our times. These are fictional characters, but they don’t feel that way. They became so real to me that I would not have been surprised to see them step out of the pages of the book, sit down and continue their story in my living room. They are that well-developed.
There are so many reasons I can list to encourage you to read this book, from the excellent storytelling, the realistic characters, the history, etc. The list could go on and on. You really need to read this book. It has my highest recommendation.
I received an ARC from Bywater Books for an honest review.