Thank you The Lesbian Review and Reviewer, April
Olympus Nights In The Square by Vanda: Book Review
Olympus Nights In The Square by Vanda is the second book in the Juliana Series.
How would you feel if you were told who you should love and if you didn’t comply, you could be branded as a criminal?
Alice will do anything in her power to make Juliana famous and she also wants to keep her safe. Their secret lives could destroy them if the media discovers that they are lesbians. Their secret has the power to bring them together or tear them apart.
Would Alice and Juliana be able to live the lives they truly desire or would the new anti-gay laws forever alter whatever limited freedom they once had?
Alice ‘Al’ Huffman is the manager of Mt. Olympus nightclub. She has come a long way from the shy and naïve young woman who left her Long Island hometown years ago. My admiration for Alice grew immensely as I followed her journey through the tumultuous post war years. She has a heart of gold and I adore her loyalty to her friends. She always finds a way to support anyone she considers a friend and I am also deeply touched by her generous nature. Alice’s flaws and her quirky ways will always endear her to me.
Maxwell Harlington III is Alice’s friend and he is also the owner of Mt. Olympus nightclub. I just love the way Maxwell encourages Alice to step out of her comfort zone. I also adore the way he relentlessly pushes her to pursue her dreams. Maxwell is a shrewd businessman and he is also a very kind-hearted individual; he only shows his caring side to the people who are close to him.
Juliana is a prominent nightclub singer. She is adored by many for her talent and her beauty. I walked a very fine line between either loathing Juliana or admiring the moxie she possesses. She has a single-minded focus and a fierce determination to achieve her goals despite the personal cost to herself and others.
The Writing Style
Once again, the author has captivated me with the way she effortlessly transports me to the early post World War II years. I slowly fell in love with the descriptions of Manhattan and I also loved the colorful and hilarious characters that kept me enthralled throughout this novel. I also enjoyed the way the author told each character’s story without losing focus of the main characters.
I enjoyed reading about women in the workplace in the post war era. This novel clearly shows how far women’s rights and the LGBT community have come. I have a greater appreciation for all of those men and women who have fought for our rights to live and love out loud.
Within this story there are graphic descriptions of gay conversion therapy, physical and sexual assault as well as murder.
I believe it is very important for the LGBT community to be reminded of the struggles and the sacrifices that have brought us to where we are today. Why is this important? It is important for someone like myself because I live in a country where my love is illegal and the LGBT community in the Caribbean is often sidelined and our rights are ignored. Therefore, reading this story has showed me that it is possible to see light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Our Caribbean LGBT activists are not giving up and it gives me some hope that someday I may have the opportunity to say that my country said YES! to love and freedom for all.
Excerpt from Olympus Nights In The Square by Vanda
The square was chocking with people. It was an ordinary, dark night with all the lights dimmed or off. Hundreds of us waited for them to come back on after they’d been off for more than three years. Juliana and I stood sandwiched between a huge marine with tattoos on his hands and a broad GI with a smile filled with too many teeth. We couldn’t move, but it didn’t matter.
An electric charge ran through the crowd, uniting us. It seemed as though we waited forever that night. Then, one by one, the lights popped on. There was the Four Roses ad, and the Pepsi-Cola ad in red, white and blue, and the lights on in storefronts, hotels, movie theaters, and Broadway theaters. The whole world was suddenly ablaze, making the night into day. It was the light Manhattan was famous for, but had been snuffed out for too long a time.
A group of foreign soldiers broke into “God Bless America.” Army hats and cheers flew into the air. Sailors and GIs pulled women into their arms and kissed them. Hitler was dead and his Nazis defeated. The United States of America was the greatest country in the whole world!
The big marine with tattooed hands grabbed me and kissed me on the lips. I spun out of his arms toward Juliana who’d just been released by her own GI. We ran toward each other filled with love and freedom and… stopped. We couldn’t do that.