This book is special to me. Karin Kallmaker is one of the first lesfic authors I ever read, and this specific book is the first lesbian romance I translated. I don’t remember reading it since, and listening to this story so many years later, masterfully narrated by Abby Craden, was a whole new and captivating experience.
Faith Fitzgerald is a respected and dedicated historian. She’s a good Catholic girl – despite not being a girl anymore since she’s in her thirties –, still living at home with her parents and her brother, a naval officer who got hurt in the course of duty. She’s dating Eric Van Allen, a nice and sweet architect, whom she really loves, albeit in a mostly platonic way. When Eric introduces her to his sister, all of Faith’s well-constructed persona fails her. Sydney is everything she loves: smart, dedicated, strong. All the feelings Faith has been struggling with for years come back, and as hard as she fights them, she can’t resist nor can she repent. The attraction is mutual but unsettles Sydney just as much. As a recovering alcoholic, she doesn’t want to give in to temptation, worried it might lead her back to her drink of choice, Glenfiddich. And she’s afraid of hurting her brother.
I am not a Catholic, I am not a religious person either, though I’m no stranger to spirituality. I grew up in a non-religious Jewish family, where being Jewish is more culture than religion. I nevertheless find faith fascinating, the way it helps people who believe, the way it can sometimes lift them up. To me, faith isn’t necessarily linked to organized religion, it’s personal, something that’s between you and you, or you and your god(s). I love the way Karin Kallmaker describes the impact faith has on Faith (that name…) and how different it is from the impact the church has on her, and her journey to accepting herself as she is. Watching her become herself is beautiful. Sydney’s character growth is of another kind but no less impressive, as she learns to trust herself and to let go in healthy ways.
Wild Things was first published a long time ago, in 1996, but is still oh so relevant. The only hints that it actually takes place in the nineties are the mentions of pop culture and the absence of cell phones. Nothing in this book feels dated, and I loved rediscovering Faith and Sydney’s feelings. Abby Craden’s narration was wonderful as usual, if a tad slow at times. I especially loved her voice for Faith in the dialogues and her voice for Faith’s sister Meg. I won a code for the audiobook from Karin Kallmaker’s blog (if you don’t already know it, you should), and fate couldn’t have done things better.