Fishwives by Sally Bellerose


Combining the pathos and social significance of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-stop Café and the humor of The Golden Girls with a cast of diverse characters worthy of the musical RentFishwives chronicles a lifetime through the eyes of two old women behaving badly.


EIGHTY-NINE-YEAR-OLD Regina and ninety-year-old Jackie met in 1955, an era when women were rounded up and jailed simply for dancing together or dressing like a man. On a cold winter day, they manage to get themselves out of the house with the help of TJ and Ramon, two young men from their working-class neighborhood in Western Massachusetts. They tie their long-dead Christmas tree to the top of their car and, using a screwdriver in place of a broken gearshift, slowly make the drive to the dump.

This is also the day when everything changes.

During the course of their adventure, memories are triggered. Their history as a passionate and devoted, but troubled couple at the intersection of historic cultural and political change unfolds via scenes from the past—including their first meeting during a police raid on a bar and Regina’s epiphany that she could truly love another woman. In the early years, they often live apart as they flee landlords who discover their secret. As their journey leads them to seek jobs and a sustainable life, they are sometimes separated—but always find their way back to each other.

Combining the pathos and social significance of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and the humor of The Golden Girls with a cast of diverse characters worthy of the musical Rent, Fishwives chronicles a lifetime through the eyes of two old women behaving badly.

“Though Regina and Jackie know their own history well, they still take pleasure in rehashing their romance and examining all of the details that make up a life: the endless chores that need doing, the physical and emotional pain of aging, the friends and family who helped them through dark times. It is not the stories themselves that matter, so much as the sound of a beloved voice and the presence of a familiar body. And, if they are not quite able to pack away their regrets, each woman at least has the other to put things in perspective. There is no happy-ever-after here, not in the traditional sense. There is only painful, imperfect, wonderful love. In the reflective novel Fishwives, two willful women defy the odds to make a life together.” —Foreword Reviews

“Another superbly written work of fiction that also reflects and reveals a genuine history of LGBTQ experiences in a hostile, anti-gay society and dominant culture, Fishwives by Sally Bellerose is an extraordinary read.” —Midwest Book Reviews

SALLY BELLEROSE is the award-winning author of The Girls Club, which was awarded a Creative Writing Fellowship from the NEA. Excerpts from the novel have been published in Sinister Wisdom, The Sun, The Best of Writers at Work, Cutthroat, Quarterly West, and won the Rick De Marinis Award, the Writers at Work Award, and a Barbara Deming Award. The manuscript was a finalist for the James Jones Fellowship, the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, The Backspace Scholarship, a Lambda Literary Award, an Independent Publishers Award, and a Golden Crown Literary Society Award. As an author, Sally loves to mess with rhythm, rhyme, and awkward emotion, and she is drawn to humor and transcendence. She writes about class, sex, sexuality, gender, illness, absurdity, and lately, growing old.

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