Synopsis: In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.
Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.
In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go.
*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***
I've read a few of Robin Talley's books and I really enjoyed them so when I saw she was coming out a new book that historical fiction elements I was really excited to read it. And it was a really interesting and engaging read with more layers than I was expecting.
One of the most interesting things about this book for me is the fact that it read like a historical mystery. Historical mysteries are one of my favorite subgenres and I have enjoyed both Robin's historical fiction and her mysteries so I knew this book was in good hands. This was one of those stories where a modern character finds something from the historical character who she has to learn more about. Their stories are linked and often mirror each other. That is exactly what happened in Pulp. Despite how different their lives were, in so many ways Abby and Janet's lives mirrored one another as they dealt with their feelings of attraction to their best friends, found a book that spoke deep into their soul, and their desire to write the perfect story.
My favorite part about this book was the subtle themes in the plot. Books about books is not rare by any means but Pulp handled it so well and in a way that was much more subtle. Pulp is very much a book for fans of reading and writing. It perfectly expresses how you feel when you find that perfect book with that character and experiences so much like your own that you relate to it so completely it overtakes you. It also communicates the idea of writing an own voices book. A book that captures your story in that cathartic way that you not only get it out of your head but out in the world. Despite my massive failure of NaNoWriMo this was the perfect book to read for this month because it is so much about writing.
I also really enjoyed the historical aspect of this book. Robin Talley is a master of write not only the LGBT experience in a historical perspective but what it was like in the mid-20th Century. This book took some of the more unspoken and undiscussed aspects of the 1950's and early-60's and brought them into the light, well as light as possible with such dark and difficult topics. She really showed the pressure and anxiety caused by McCarthyism and the witch hunt not only for Communists but anyone who was different including homosexuals. I love exploring not only this time period but some of the aspects that don't often get the attention they deserve so I really enjoyed this book for that reason.
As far as the characters go, I felt like the author did a great job in balancing the two perspectives. The story alternated between Janet and Abby and they both had interesting stories but if I am being completely honest I enjoyed Janet's story a bit more. Abby was super relateable and the way she was dealing with her writing and the anxiety of how she was handling the forthcoming change felt so genuine and real. However, I found myself wanting to learn more about Janet and how her story unfolded. In her chapters there was drama and tension. For a plot-driven reader, Janet's story was the more engaging. I also think I just liked Janet a bit more. She had a lot going against her but she knew who she and stayed fiercely herself despite the adversity. I had a lot of respect for her because of that.
I really enjoyed Pulp a lot. It was a fast and interesting book and I devoured it. I read it so much faster than I expected because I was invested in the stories of both Janet and Abby. It was a subtle historical mystery with great themes and engaging characters.
I give Pulp by Robin Talley 9 out of 10 stars
Have you read Pulp? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!