Beowulf for Cretins: A Love Story by Ann McMan

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 2 customer ratings
(2 customer reviews)

$9.99

A burned out English professor toiling away at a small college in Vermont’s Champlain Islands finds love and ensuing complications that very well may spoil her last shots at tenure and happiness.

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Description

English professor and aspiring novelist, Grace Warner spends her days teaching four sections of “Beowulf for Cretins” to bored and disinterested students at one of New England’s “hidden ivy” colleges. Not long after she is dumped by her longtime girlfriend, Grace meets the engaging and mysterious Abbie on a cross-country flight. Sparks fly on and off the plane as the two strangers give in to one night of reckless passion with no strings attached, and no contact information exchanged.

Back home at St. Albans, the college rocks Grace’s world when it announces the appointment of a new president, the first woman in its 165-year history. Cue Abbie—and cue Grace’s collision course with a neurotic dog named Grendel, a fractious rival for tenure, and a woman called Ochre, in what very well might be Grace’s last real shot at happiness.

This full-length novel reimagines and expands on the short story, “Falling From Grace,” which was originally published in the award-winning story collection, Sidecar by Ann McMan.


“A whirlwind blend of philosophical rumination, dry humor, lesbian romance, and slice-of-life pursuit of happiness, Beowulf for Cretins is an unforgettable novel from award-winning author Ann McMan.”—Reviewer’s Bookwatch, Midwest Book Reviews

“Ann McMan is the lesbian Armistead Maupin, only better.” —Lee Lynch, author of The Swashbuckler

“North Carolina author Ann McMan has a gift like few other authors. She knows how to blend comedy and sensitivity to human issues so seamlessly that reading her novels is like looking into the mirror. Funny, smart, informed, and very tender, she writes superb novels of multiple levels of interpretation. Ann is not only a fine tale spinner, but also an excellent craftswoman!” —Grady Harp, Amazon Vine Voice, Hall of Fame, Top 100 Reviewer


ANN McMAN is the author of eight novels and two short story collections. She is a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, a two-time Independent Publisher (IPPY) medalist, and a five-time winner of Golden Crown Literary Society Awards. In 2017 she was awarded the Alice B. Medal for Outstanding Body of Work. An award-winning graphic designer, she resides in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

 

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2 reviews for Beowulf for Cretins: A Love Story by Ann McMan

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Bugs

    **Thanks to Sheena from The Lesbian Review Book Club, who drew me name for a book win, Salem West from Bywater Books sent me this book BEFORE its mass release on 26th June 2018 (never experienced this kind of luck before!) and I’m eternally grateful and appreciative for it!! Cheers! ?**

    Ahh, if you’ve read Ann McMan‘s “Sidecar,” a 4-story anthology, you should know that McMan’s latest, “Beowulf for Cretins,” is an expanded story of “Falling From Grace,” the 3rd short story from “Sidecar” which I thoroughly enjoyed and wondered if McMan would ever consider turning it into a full-length novel. Ha, me wish came true with this fantastic, brilliantly written love story!

    First off, no worries if you didn’t read “Falling From Grace” from “Sidecar” because McMan included the short in the beginning. The only thing changed was the location – from Ohio to Vermont. I must say, I love that the locale was shifted to nifty, little New England state, though. ?

    I was immediately hooked from the start. I adored Grace and her dry sense of humour. Her neurotic behaviour was written with such wit I was chuckling as I read along! Grace’s accidental encounter with Abbie whilst on the plane heading to San Francisco and their subsequent convo was one of the wittiest and most delightful dialogue I’ve read. Never mind Grace’s funny internal monologue! ? I could feel their instant chemistry as they shared similar interests, their adorable banter, and ok, quoting films, too?! And they didn’t stop at just films. They were quoting poetry, art, literature, philosophy…ahhh!!! Absolutely love it when characters do that! Alright, yes, I’m a complete nerd. An academic nerd, an avid reader and a film/tv buff. So there! And oh, of course, Grace has to be in the field of academia – a college professor! An English professor, to be precise!! I’m positively smitten!!! ? Cheers, Ms. McMan! ?

    As both Grace and Abbie thought their encounter would just be a one-time thing, they were destined to meet again, much to their chagrin! Yup, surprise, sur-bloody-prise, guess who turned up on-stage when the new semester began at Grace’s college, being introduced as the college’s first-ever female president in its history?! Yup. That’s right…BULL’S EYE! Of all the coincidences….or, shall we say, D-E-S-T-I-N-Y? Eh? ?

    Whilst Grace was tormented by her constant Catholic guilt, her disastrous past relationship, what have you, Abbie was unexpectedly the one pushing the envelope, so to speak, wanting to still advance their relationship in some shape or form, even though she didn’t know how. Whenever these two were together in private, their attraction and growing feelings for each other were too strong for them to stay away. McMan truly excels in using literary references and turning them into some hilarious expletives, cursing or profoundly enlightening phrases! In this case, Grace had no shortage of spewing some hilarious literary references which I absolutely couldn’t get enough of! Similarly, Abbie held her own and gave Grace a run of her money with equally nerdy, witty, snarky literary comebacks.? PLUS, Abbie’s use of the French language….ohhhhhh…now THAT’s another level of *swoon* for me!! ?

    Speaking of making literary references, I was elated that McMan somehow injected physics into her dialogue construction!! Quantum physics, to be precise!!! What?! It’s only me absolute favourite topic in physics/science! Whoever would have thought to equate quantum physics and the Roman Catholic church to enhance the meaning of life? Oh, and algorithms, too! And how about we throw in some illuminating philosophical determinism and existentialism whilst we’re at it, eh? Yup, that’s the genius of McMan!? Ahhh….I tell ya, every time I read McMan’s work, not only am I completely entertained with her stories, my gray matter also gets boosted. I feel smarter! ?

    Because Grace grew up Catholic, taught by Catholics, obviously she was always guilt-ridden by everything around her that wasn’t what was indoctrinated into her psyche by the one person who became her touchstone in how she viewed life and the world at large – Sister Merry Larry. (Ahhh, nuns. Memories!!!?) And, crikey, when Grace later found out what happened to her “moral compass” in tunic, Grace’s commentary was bloody hilarious! ? **Sidenote: Wouldn’t it be a riot if McMan decided to write a short story about Sister Merry Larry and her hysterical antics running around, during her heydey, teaching catechism to young Grace and the other Catholic students, eh! Knowing McMan’s fabulous sense of humour and comedy writing instincts, it’s gonna be a blast reading it! Just saying! ?**

    I simply ? Abbie. Her steadfast conviction about her feelings for Grace, no matter how risky her situation was, was so utterly romantic, alluring and passionate. And Grace, being her neurotic self, constantly doubted her worth even though she was quickly falling head-over-heels for the irresistibly gorgeous woman whom she believed was way out of her league! Her constant struggle with herself about her growing attachment to Abbie and her inability to walk away from the object of her desire, the potential threat to her tenure which she’d worked so hard for, and Abbie’s exceptionally bright and pioneering career future that could be jeopardised if she and Abbie continued with their romantic entanglement, was described with absolute fervour, realism and good old humour! ?

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention those incredible secondary characters who complemented the development and growth of Grace and Abbie’s story. My favourite was Grace’s best mate, CK! OMG, this genius of a woman – so young, so intelligent, so very foul-mouthed (yes!)! But my favourite thing about her was how she, as a physics prodigy, would always apply her thoughts and worldview in quantum physical, mathematical terms, which amazingly sounded poetic! That’s the brilliance that is McMan’s writing. Another memorable character was Abbie’s mother. Ohhhh….those French expressions coming out of her mouth…oooh la la! ? You simply must read it so you get to savour and appreciate the utterly delightful exchange between her and Abbie and Grace, yourselves! ?

    I was very grateful that McMan included both Grace and Abbie’s points of view, their own dilemma and struggles, their internal monologue – all written with such finesse I got to have a better understanding of their undeniable chemistry, their deepening love for each other. How McMan structured their characters and the story around them was truly engaging to read. It was addicting. I was racing to find out what was going to happen to these endearing love-struck souls, especially when, obviously, their journey toward HEA was far from being cut-and-dry, what with some unexpected turn of events involving Ochre (a mystery woman in Grace’s life for several years), some unwelcome interest to fend off (oh, just wait until you read the hilarious situation and subsequent exchange between Grace and Abbie in the aftermath! ?) and what did the mythological Janus have to do with becoming their talisman? Read and find out! ?

    McMan’s writing is artistry, IMHO. Just look at the title she chose for this fantastic love story. Beowulf. A neurotic dog named Grendel. Religious parallels. Eucatastrophe vs deus ex machina. Free will vs determinism. Fascinating juxtaposition between the epic literature and the cast of characters, religious connotations, events that occurred around Grace and Abbie’s love story.

    Love, happiness, faith, dreams – eucatastrophe or deus ex machina?

    My favourite line from the book:

    “The words were enough to tip the balance of Grace’s tenuous hold on reality. In one dizzy and explosive moment, she surrendered her battle with gravity—and with everything else she’d fought so hard to resist throughout her life. Faith. Happiness. Outcomes that were fair and just. A belief that one day, life would offer up something permanent—an enduring connection that would thrive and grow stronger, instead of withering on the vine of indifference. And love. Love that would last and stand with her through the rest of time.

    Here it was. Here it all was—hers for the taking.”

    – utterly poetic, lyrical, rhythmic. Music to me ears. Literally.

    Bloody hell! It’s no wonder Ann McMan is one of me favourite authors for a long time! All her books are brain foods for me. They always give me thoughts to ponder. “Jericho” has always been me favourite McMan book all these years. Now, “Beowulf for Cretins” has taken over! Abbie and Grace’s love story is one that I will be re-visiting often, that’s a promise! Blimey, I’m already in the process of reading it for the 3rd bloody time! Fancy that, eh? ??

    If you haven’t realised already, I absolutely ?? this book and I can’t recommend it high enough! So, do yourselves a favour, grab a copy and read it! You won’t regret this absolutely fabulous treat for the heart and the mind! ??

    Well done, Ms. McMan, for yet another crackin’ story! Thanks a lot for giving us this much-deserved couple their complete love story at last!! Cheers, mate! ??

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Bugs

    **Thanks to Sheena from The Lesbian Review Book Club, who drew me name for a book win, Salem West from Bywater Books sent me this book BEFORE its mass release on 26th June 2018 (never experienced this kind of luck before!) and I’m eternally grateful and appreciative for it!! Cheers! ?**

    Ahh, if you’ve read Ann McMan‘s “Sidecar,” a 4-story anthology, you should know that McMan’s latest, “Beowulf for Cretins,” is an expanded story of “Falling From Grace,” the 3rd short story from “Sidecar” which I thoroughly enjoyed and wondered if McMan would ever consider turning it into a full-length novel. Ha, me wish came true with this fantastic, brilliantly written love story!

    First off, no worries if you didn’t read “Falling From Grace” from “Sidecar” because McMan included the short in the beginning. The only thing changed was the location – from Ohio to Vermont. I must say, I love that the locale was shifted to the nifty, little New England state, though. ?

    I was immediately hooked from the start. I adored Grace and her dry sense of humour. Her neurotic behaviour was written with such wit I was chuckling as I read along! Grace’s accidental encounter with Abbie whilst on the plane heading to San Francisco and their subsequent convo was one of the wittiest and most delightful dialogue I’ve read. Never mind Grace’s funny internal monologue! ? I could feel their instant chemistry as they shared similar interests, their adorable banter, and ok, quoting films, too?! And they didn’t stop at just films. They were quoting poetry, art, literature, philosophy…ahhh!!! Absolutely love it when characters do that! Alright, yes, I’m a complete nerd. An academic nerd, an avid reader and a film/tv buff. So there! And oh, of course, Grace has to be in the field of academia – a college professor! An English professor, to be precise!! I’m positively smitten!!! ? Cheers, Ms. McMan! ?

    As both Grace and Abbie thought their encounter would just be a one-time thing, they were destined to meet again, much to their chagrin! Yup, surprise, sur-bloody-prise, guess who turned up on-stage when the new semester began at Grace’s college, being introduced as the college’s first-ever female president in its history?! Yup. That’s right…BULL’S EYE! Of all the coincidences….or, shall we say, D-E-S-T-I-N-Y? Eh? ?

    Whilst Grace was tormented by her constant Catholic guilt, her disastrous past relationship, what have you, Abbie was unexpectedly the one pushing the envelope, so to speak, wanting to still advance their relationship in some shape or form, even though she didn’t know how. Whenever these two were together in private, their attraction and growing feelings for each other were too strong for them to stay away. McMan truly excels in using literary references and turning them into some hilarious expletives, cursing or profoundly enlightening phrases! In this case, Grace had no shortage of spewing some hilarious literary references which I absolutely couldn’t get enough of! Similarly, Abbie held her own and gave Grace a run of her money with equally nerdy, witty, snarky literary comebacks.? PLUS, Abbie’s use of the French language….ohhhhhh…now THAT’s another level of *swoon* for me!! ?

    Speaking of making literary references, I was elated that McMan somehow injected physics into her dialogue construction!! Quantum physics, to be precise!!! What?! It’s only me absolute favourite topic in physics/science! Whoever would have thought to equate quantum physics and the Roman Catholic church to enhance the meaning of life? Oh, and algorithms, too! And how about we throw in some illuminating philosophical determinism and existentialism whilst we’re at it, eh? Yup, that’s the genius of McMan!? Ahhh….I tell ya, every time I read McMan’s work, not only am I completely entertained with her stories, my gray matter also gets boosted. I feel smarter! ?

    Because Grace grew up Catholic, taught by Catholics, obviously she was always guilt-ridden by everything around her that wasn’t what was indoctrinated into her psyche by the one person who became her touchstone in how she viewed life and the world at large – Sister Merry Larry. (Ahhh, nuns. Memories!!!?) And, crikey, when Grace later found out what happened to her “moral compass” in tunic, Grace’s commentary was bloody hilarious! ? **Sidenote: Wouldn’t it be a riot if McMan decided to write a short story about Sister Merry Larry and her hysterical antics running around, during her heydey, teaching catechism to young Grace and the other Catholic students, eh! Knowing McMan’s fabulous sense of humour and comedy writing instincts, it’s gonna be a blast reading it! Just saying! ?**

    I simply ? Abbie. Her steadfast conviction about her feelings for Grace, no matter how risky her situation was, was so utterly romantic, alluring and passionate. And Grace, being her neurotic self, constantly doubted her worth even though she was quickly falling head-over-heels for the irresistibly gorgeous woman whom she believed was way out of her league! Her constant struggle with herself about her growing attachment to Abbie and her inability to walk away from the object of her desire, the potential threat to her tenure which she’d worked so hard for, and Abbie’s exceptionally bright and pioneering career future that could be jeopardised if she and Abbie continued with their romantic entanglement, was described with absolute fervour, realism and good old humour! ?

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention those incredible secondary characters who complemented the development and growth of Grace and Abbie’s story. My favourite was Grace’s best mate, CK! OMG, this genius of a woman – so young, so intelligent, so very foul-mouthed (yes!)! But my favourite thing about her was how she, as a physics prodigy, would always apply her thoughts and worldview in quantum physical, mathematical terms, which amazingly sounded poetic! That’s the brilliance that is McMan’s writing. Another memorable character was Abbie’s mother. Ohhhh….those French expressions coming out of her mouth…oooh la la! ? You simply must read it so you get to savour and appreciate the utterly delightful exchange between her and Abbie and Grace, yourselves! ?

    I was very grateful that McMan included both Grace and Abbie’s points of view, their own dilemma and struggles, their internal monologue – all written with such finesse I got to have a better understanding of their undeniable chemistry, their deepening love for each other. How McMan structured their characters and the story around them was truly engaging to read. It was addicting. I was racing to find out what was going to happen to these endearing love-struck souls, especially when, obviously, their journey toward HEA was far from being cut-and-dry, what with some unexpected turn of events involving Ochre (a mystery woman in Grace’s life for several years), some unwelcome interest to fend off (oh, just wait until you read the hilarious situation and subsequent exchange between Grace and Abbie in the aftermath! ?) and what did the mythological Janus have to do with becoming their talisman? Read and find out! ?

    McMan’s writing is artistry, IMHO. Just look at the title she chose for this fantastic love story. Beowulf. A neurotic dog named Grendel. Religious parallels. Eucatastrophe vs deus ex machina. Free will vs determinism. Fascinating juxtaposition between the epic literature and the cast of characters, religious connotations, events that occurred around Grace and Abbie’s love story.

    Love, happiness, faith, dreams – eucatastrophe or deus ex machina?

    My favourite line from the book:

    “The words were enough to tip the balance of Grace’s tenuous hold on reality. In one dizzy and explosive moment, she surrendered her battle with gravity—and with everything else she’d fought so hard to resist throughout her life. Faith. Happiness. Outcomes that were fair and just. A belief that one day, life would offer up something permanent—an enduring connection that would thrive and grow stronger, instead of withering on the vine of indifference. And love. Love that would last and stand with her through the rest of time.

    Here it was. Here it all was—hers for the taking.”

    – utterly poetic, lyrical, rhythmic. Music to me ears. Literally.

    Bloody hell! It’s no wonder Ann McMan is one of me favourite authors for a long time! All her books are brain foods for me. They always give me thoughts to ponder. “Jericho” has always been me favourite McMan book all these years. Now, “Beowulf for Cretins” has taken over! Abbie and Grace’s love story is one that I will be re-visiting often, that’s a promise! “Beowulf for Cretins” is now one of me favourite lesfic books! ? Blimey, I’m already in the process of reading it for the 3rd bloody time! Fancy that, eh? ??

    If you haven’t realised already, I absolutely ?? this book and I can’t recommend it high enough! So, do yourselves a favour, grab a copy and read it! You won’t regret this absolutely fabulous treat for the heart and the mind! ??

    Well done, Ms. McMan, for yet another crackin’ story! Thanks a lot for giving us this fabulous couple their much-deserved, complete love story at last!! Cheers, mate! ??

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