Juliana (Volume I, 1941-1944)
Publication Date: February 14, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 375 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Woman/LGBT
JULIANA is the story of dreams, the dreams of two women who randomly, inevitably cross paths, of stage stardom and soulful songs amid the deceptions required in a prewar 1941 New York City, where love was presumed to be straight, and destiny was supposed to be written in the stars.
It’s 1941 and Alice “Al” Huffman comes from the potato fields of Long Island with her beau, her best girlfriend and her girlfriend’s beau to make it on the Broadway stage only to find she has no talent. On the kids’ first day in New York City, they meet Maxwell P. Hartwell III, a failed nightclub owner and Broadway producer, who, according to Al, looks a little like Clark Gable. He invites them to a nightclub where Al hears Juliana, the glamorous, perpetually-on-the-brink-of stardom singer, for the first time. Al is instantly drawn to her and seeks her out. Juliana is a sexual risk-taker who easily reels in the mesmerized Al.
Al is increasingly pulled into a secret gay underworld of men who wear dresses and women who smoke cigars, while her childhood friends continue in their “normal” lives. Al glides easily between the two worlds until these worlds begin to collide.
Cameo appearances are made by Walter Liverace, Ethel Merman, Tallulah Bankhead and others.
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Julianna: Volume 1 (1941-1944) was a unique look at an often undiscussed subject of the era. The research put into this short novel is incredible and admirable. Vanda has taken the time to really explore the topic from the perspective of her main character, Al. An excellent novel, I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
“… captures the fear, excitement, and eroticism of a young lesbian’s awakening in the the 1940s.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Vanda creates a historical novel about a time period in which we know very little about queerness—WWII… Vanda’s narratives, prowess of timely language and setting and character development lend a poignant message: to be queer was to be anti-American.— July Westhale, Lambda Literary Review
“Juliana is the opening act in a series of stories that will cover, discover and recover LGBT history…. Vanda’s clean-shave style in Juliana amplifies the creative ways in which lesbians and gays in the 1940s compartmentalized their identities like meals at an automat…..I can’t wait for the next edition of yestergays’ news to come out” — Alison Fradkin, Curve Magazine
“Spell-binding, entrancing. A gay underworld with the sights and sounds of a lost New York.” — Lisa E. Davis, author of Under the Mink
About the Author
Vanda’s novel, Juliana (Vol. 1, 1941-1944) to be released in February by Booktrope Editions is about LGBT life in 1940s New York City. This novel is the first of a series of novels about the same characters living through successive decades of LGBT history.
As a playwright Vanda has received numerous honors, among them an Edward Albee Fellowship. Her play, Vile Affections, published by Original Works was a finalist for a National Lambda Award. Her play, Patient HM, which later became The Forgetting Curve, won the Pride Stage and Screen’s Women’s Playwriting Award and another play, Why’d Ya Make Me Wear This, Joe, won Celebration Theater’s (where Naked Boys Singing originated) Best New LGBT Play. Vile Affections played at the New York International Fringe Festival to sell-out audiences and was published by Original Works in 2008. The Forgetting Curve was produced in Boston in September 2014 and the producer has plans to bring it to New York.
Vanda’s non-fiction story, “Jack,” was published in Prairie Schooner in Summer 2011 and another non-fiction piece, “Roger: Lost Between Philosophies,” which appears Pentimento was selected by New Millennium Writings for Honorable Mention from a submission pool of 1,300. Other short prose pieces have been or will be published in Sinister Wisdom, The Outrider Review and The Grub Street On-Line Journal.
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