Archive for the ‘Sapphic Romance’ Category

I discovered Olivia Waite’sThe Hellion’s Waltz‘ recently and I started reading it on New Year’s Eve, as I was in the mood for reading some romance, and I finished reading it today.

Sophie and her family have newly moved to Carrisford. Sophie’s father builds and repairs and sells pianos. Sophie tunes pianos, teaches piano playing and is a pianist herself. Sophie’s mother was a famous singer once. It looks like a huge misfortune has fallen over their family and so the family had to relocate from glitzy London to small Carrisford to start over again. Then Sophie stumbles into an attractive, charismatic woman called Maddie Crewes. As Olivia Waite beautifully describes that scene –

“This woman was how she’d imagined every cruel heartbreaker in every old ballad she’d ever heard. If you were lucky, you pined away for love of her. If you weren’t lucky, you won her, lost her, and were damned. Here was Sophie, craving damnation.”

What happens after that, as Sophie and Maddie are pulled together into a Sapphic embrace forms the rest of the story.

The Hellion’s Waltz‘ is a beautiful Sapphic romance. As we read about how Sophie and Maddie get attracted towards each other, we also learn about the England of the early 1800s, the England of Jane Austen’s times, when women workers were discriminated against, underpaid for their work, and if they chose to fight this injustice, how they were put in prison, or worse sent as a convict to Australia. Sophie is a musician and Maddie is a weaver who works against injustice through her underground, informal network, and it is wonderful to read how their worlds collide and intertwine together. I loved both the romance part and the history part of the book. Sophie is a quiet, introverted person, and in the initial romantic encounter, she says and does things that are so out-of-character, that it is unbelievable, and it feels that the author might have forced that scene into the book at that point, but subsequent romantic encounters are natural and beautiful and pleasurable to read. There are beautiful descriptions of classical music and piano tuning in the book that are a pleasure to read. There is one particular page that I want to share, in which Sophie plays a waltz, because it is so beautiful, but it is better read in context as part of the story, because it is more pleasurable that way. The book is worth reading for that page alone.

There are two more books in this ‘Feminine Pursuits’ series by Olivia Waite, both Sapphic romances, and I hope to read them sometime.

I’m sharing one of my favourite conversations from the book below.

Mr. Frampton : “How is the waltz coming along?”

Sophie : “I’m still working on that second section. It’s improving, but I’m not sure it’s ready for you to hear more just yet.”

Mr. Frampton : “You are aiming for perfection. It’s understandable. What musician worthy of the gift doesn’t wish to be perfect? But it’s unattainable. Either you’re on the upward slope and still learning how to achieve your designs, or you’re past the peak and tumbling down into overanalysis — forms without feeling.”

Sophie : “So then how do you stay at the top of the hill?”

Sophie’s Mom : “You can’t. You have to pick yourself up and keep going, try again. A musician gets only so many chances to stand in that place and give everything she has.”

Mr. Frampton : “Only so many perfect moments. The trick is to recognize them when they’re upon you.”

Have you read ‘The Hellion’s Waltz‘? What do you think about it? Do you like Sapphic romances?


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