If writing the word “squee” was an appropriate review, I would write that here. It’s such a warm and generous book that I want to go around telling everyone and forcing them to read it.
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure is a rare gem for a number of reasons:
- Excellent historical f/f romance
- Characters over the ages of 60 and 70
- Women supporting women and trying to find justice for women
- Women finding their worth and value
- Vengeance against a horrible man
The book is pretty much a subgenre that I’ve never encountered before: a revenge romp. How do you write a revenge romp? You’d have to ask Milan. But the requirements might include an unrepentant villain, a chorus, geese in a boarding house, making cheesy toast while enjoying some arson. Or something similar.
But the thing that really grabbed me about Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure is how generous and kind the book is to Bertrice (Mrs. Martin) and Violetta. The realities of their existence are detailed. They are women in their 60s and 70s, pushed aside and treated as useless, as people who should be forgotten because of their ages and gender. And this novella allows them to demand better. They meet because Violetta wants more and better than she’s got, and they begin to plot. Through each other, they begin to fight for a place to be themselves. Bertrice has less growth to do in terms of finding her place. She’s a wealthy widow growing older with boredom. Meeting Violetta provides the motivation she has been missing since her friends died. Meanwhile, Violetta has been beaten by the system and denied a pension, so she doubts her place in the world, doubts that she has anything to offer except to fade into obscurity once she has enough money to leave with.
I suspect that I’ve never commented on a sex scene in a review before, but this one is so tender and appreciative. The bodies of these women are treated with respect and love in every description. Every piece of our bodies that women are taught by society to criticize is adored in the text. Wrinkles are not horrible things to worry over, but beautiful markers to celebrate. And really, Milan wrote a masterclass in describing women’s bodies in this book. All you see is the beauty and love, none of the denigrating comments we are taught to expect.
So, yeah, read Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure as soon as possible. And as is common with novellas, my only complaint is that I could have spent far more time with these women.
Content warnings: reference to past sexual assault, lots of horrible men