Matilda Reviews: Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman


Lillian Faderman tells the compelling story of lesbian life in the 20th century, from the early 1900s to today’s diverse lifestyles. Using journals, unpublished manuscripts, songs, news accounts, novels, medical literature, and numerous interviews, she relates an often surprising narrative of lesbian life.

My Thoughts:

I zipped through Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America by Lillian Faderman.

This was a good book if you’d like semi-decent coverage of a fairly large period of lesbian history. It introduced me to lesbians at different times in history and gave me an overarching idea of how immensely lesbian life and attitudes towards lesbians have shifted and changed during the last hundred-odd years in America.

I learned more about romantic friendships between women at the turn of the twentieth century—relationships that existed before anyone even knew the term “lesbian,” and which were accepted and encouraged by society.

I learned about the women—apparently mostly lesbians—who served in World War I. Although they were a great asset to the military, they were spied on and threatened with expulsion if their sexual orientation were discovered.

I also learned more about how lesbians fit into the second-wave feminist movement: creating lesbian communes and choosing a lesbian identity in defiance of the patriarchy.

Faderman did attempt to include the experiences of women of color in her book, although unfortunately, there is not as much information about them as I would have liked. If you want a good overview of lesbian history in America, though, this book is a good choice.


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