Traf lives on an island in the Azores in the late 1950s and early 1960s and life is not at all easy for her. As a tomboy her father makes her life a misery as do many of the other islanders. There are a lot of women like her though and these ‘maria rapazes’ as they are known begin to meet up and in time pair off. Many of them join the American forces to try and escape their families and to have some modicum of control over their lives. I found the book fascinating from a historical perspective, as any books I have read dealing with LGBT+ lives in the past have been set in the USA or UK and the experiences were quite different in many ways. Although many of the women faced the same problems of acceptance as their American and British counterparts they met a level of violence that I found shocking. Their lack of knowledge of gay and lesbian culture and even of sex was possibly shared but one thing I can say is that I felt a bit sorry for the butches. Frustration doesn’t even cover it!
I really enjoyed the story and the hope that shone through, despite all the awful things the women had to put up with. Traf was a feisty character and I had no doubt she would keep up the fight. Her group of friends, the maria rapazes, showed so much courage and I want to know how life treats them. There’s certainly another book waiting to be written and I hope Genta Sebastian plans to do it.
I obtained a copy of this book from Netgalley and the Sapphire Publishers in order to review it.