Publication Date: 1st April 2021
Publisher: Borough Press
I’d seen this colourful book plenty of times on Twitter and I’d not had the chance to sit down and research it. When I was offered a proof copy I got my chance to have a little look at just what The Inverts by Crystal Jeans was all about. I knew once I’d read the blurb that it was a book I’d be saying a hearty Yes to!
The Inverts is set in the roaring 1920’s and 30’s and tells the story of the relationship between Bettina Wyn Thomas and Bartholmew (Bart) Dawes. They meet when they are children and their parents are friends. We first meet them when they are in their early teens and having spent much of their relationship being ‘just friends’ Bart wants to try out his charms on Bettina.
After a clumsy assignation it becomes blatantly apparent that neither party enjoyed the experience and it is mutually agreed that yes indeed they are just friends. But we soon learn that the reason for this disconnect is the fact that Bart has a penchant for boys and Bettina is finding herself increasingly attracted to one of her girlfriends at school.
What follows on is a tapestry of their failed and successful relationships with the same sex. Their loves, their objects of lust, their dalliances and their deeper connections. These relationships all orbit around the central pairing of Bart and Bettina who decide to marry to conceal their sexual preferences at a time where it could be potentially very detrimental to their lives should they be found out. I found this ‘lavender marriage’ element fascinating.
There are fleeting escapades on both sides, one night stands and assignations. But there are also deeper loved that have to find a place within Bart and Bettina’s relationship and assimilate around them.
They may not always like each other, and indeed there are times where their relationship is tested but there is always a much deeper, stronger bond built on sturdy foundations that cannot be shaken. I loved the fact that their love is not perfect, it gets messy, it gets wild it gets ambivalent over a number of decades but they remain firm in their connection.
This wonderful relationship is mainly set against a backdrop of the roaring 20’s and 30’s. A time period which was by turns both glamorous and debauched. There’s the quaffing of champagne, drugs and casual clandestine sex which are all perfectly depicted and set the scene and tone of the book. You really feel like you are there.
There are highs and lows, funny and tender moments which spirit you away through the book loving every moment you spend with Bart and Bettina. They are characters who I will never forget and I already have the urge to revisit them.
Get your hands on a copy and pay Bart and Bettina a visit. You won’t regret it.
Thank you so much to the publisher for my review copy.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx