Shelley Ettinger, Vera's Will

Vera Steiner lives through pogrom, poverty, epidemic--but how can she go on after her children are torn away from her? In a time before anyone dares dream that love is a right, Vera pays for her deviance with lifelong loneliness. Yet this is not a throwback to the old doomed-lesbian tale. Vera is strong. She survives.

Fifty years later, in an era of change, of hope, Vera's granddaughter Randy comes of age and comes out of the closet. Randy throws herself into the struggle to do away with shame and secrecy--never knowing her own grandmother's secret shame until it's too late.

Sweeping across the miles and over the years--from czarist Russia to sweatshop New Jersey, from the 1960s Motor City to the Manhattan of gay power protests--VERA'S WILL takes the reader on a grand journey. Set against the backdrop of war, depression, McCarthyism, civil rights, AIDS, this is a novel of the 20th century. This is a family saga. Most of all, though, this is Vera's story, and Randy's: a story about the human heart, and the unbreakable human will to love.

~~~~~

Longtime LGBTQ activist Ettinger has fashioned a powerful, superbly written saga that spans three generations and a century. The parallel stories of Vera and her granddaughter spotlight the challenges faced by women who love women, but there is an even wider focus here. ... This debut novel, in essence, presents the history of oppression and liberation in the 20th century told through the voices of two women, one hopelessly silenced, one forever speaking out. A breathtaking achievement.
Library Journal, starred review

In a family saga that spans two countries, a half-century, and three generations, Shelley Ettinger's Vera's Will is both historical document and social commentary, deftly couched in beautifully written fiction. ... You absolutely should read it ... If Ettinger accomplishes anything at all in this beautiful story, it is the lofty goal of patience and of human understanding.
New Pages.com

Vera's Will is a beautifully told queer family saga, one that is by turns heart-wrenching and heartwarming, and at every moment an entrancing read. ... It's the kind of novel you want to read in one fell swoop...The story provokes that perfect combination of emotion and introspection. ... It fills a void in queer fiction...
Lesbrary

Shelley Ettinger has written a masterful novel. There are few in this world who can sustain the long,multi-generational, multi-perspective, multi-country narrative form, and she is one of them. ... Rife with tragedy, beauty, secrecy and survival ... What is additionally spectacular about the novel is the sheer amount of ground it covers in four hundred pages. ... Ettinger has managed to sew together an exceptionally large blanket of a story, and she has done it well.
Lambda Literary Review

Vera's life is a tragedy writ large, but Ettinger nonetheless gives us a character full of vim, a survivor who crafts a fulfilling, if limited, life. ... Vera's Will not only tells a searing story, but a thoughtful and inspiring one. Indeed, it's a book whose characters will pop into your head, tug at your psyche, and demand that you take sides.
Lilith Magazine

Reading Vera's Will was an adventure. Its well-paced narration moves with elegance and compassion, sometimes sorrowful to tears, other times blazing with righteous fury or bawdy giggles. Ettinger's scope is great, vivid, discontinuous, and skillfully constructed with dramatic revelations, disappointments and discoveries.
Work History News

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Vera's Will By Shelley Ettinger Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780983666875
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hamilton Stone Editions - January 15th, 2015

Vera Steiner lives through pogrom, poverty, epidemic--but how can she go on after her children are torn away from her? In a time before anyone dares dream that love is a right, Vera pays for her deviance with lifelong loneliness. Yet this is not a throwback to the old doomed-lesbian tale. Vera is strong. She survives.


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