Charity by Paulette Callen is the perfect book to have a wonderful time with a different story among lesbic bibliography, because it’s not the typical romantic novel but has deep and alluring characters and a clear message, love can save a lost and desperate person.
As I said, the book doesn’t tell us the typical love story, doesn’t fall into topics, the character’s lives haven’t been easy. They have suffered for being different, as the case of Dakotah Indians, who are discriminated and treated as outcasts, people who have the same considerations of a horse or pet. More than that, this books talks about people who have been punished for loving those who shouldn’t and for daring to want to be happy without caring what society considers acceptable.
We’ll meet Lena Kaiser, married to an alcoholic man whose addiction has compromised not only their reputation but his freedom, and because of this she has had to learn to live with countless frustrations. On the other hand we have Augusta Roemer, also known as Gustie, a lonely woman who avoids visiting the town and its inhabitants as much as she can; a candid and generous local teacher who has a secret and a dark past that nobody, not even her dear friend Lena, knows about.
While the story is mainly based on these two characters, we can’t leave Dorcas and Jordis behind, because these two Dakotah women saved Gustie’s life, first restoring her health, then her peace of mind and spirit and, finally, love, so they become pillars of the story too. In addition, we’ll know more about them, their past and their life experiences as outsiders in a world that tries to control and condemn them because they’re different and don’t fit in their acceptable parameters.
What makes Charity by Paullete Callen a special book is, without a doubt, the realism of its characters, because the author manages to show real women whose lives are far from perfect, women who have suffered loss and hardship. Furthermore, Augusta and Lena, unlike typical lesbian novels, aren’t the main couple… or they are, but their bond is a deep friendship that transcend prejudices. This is evident when Lena accepts, not really understanding it, Gustie’s relationship with the Indians, or when the teacher helps her friend’s husband without thinking twice about Will’s defects or if he deserves to be punished, simply trying to help Lena. But the real test of their relationship will come when they have to face two crimes that will shake the foundation of Lena.
Fighting characters, strong, that have fallen, have endured tremendous tests, but have prevailed, and nothing gives more pleasure than to see life itself reflected in a book with a happy ending and the promise of a sequel.