Apparently one of the perks of being Class Alumnae Rep is that I get advance review copies if one of our classmates writes a book. Jane Surly has done just that and the book she's written is a very thinly disguised roman-a-clef all about... you!
It's not very good (no reflection on your life, old friend, just on her lousy writing), but I thought you'd want to read it anyway... BEFORE it gets any press or hits the bookstores. If the prose style's too dreary for you, the press release inside the front cover should make it clear why I thought you'd want some warning on this.
Please give my love to Elizabeth and Anais. I'm looking forward to seeing you all when I'm in for the Alumni/ae Council meeting in late June.
Beyond the Valley of the Group, Jane Surly's first novel has been over twenty years in the making. Ever since her undergraduate days at Cliff College during the tumultuously rebellious days of the early '70's, Jane has been waiting to tell the story which rings so true that, despite the author's admirable discretion, we cannot help but know it to be based on Truth!
Beyond the Valley of the Group is the story of Claud (short for Claudia) Richards and the heartbreaking confusion she feels trapped on her parents' farm. Her brother, Frank, escapes to the relative freedom of combat service in Viet Nam, but Claud must run away to the nearby College to discover herself.
Beyond the Valley of the Group recreates the world of a liberal arts college at a time when all the values held dear by simple people like the Richards were being challenged for the restrictive, hypocritical and really boring way of life they validated. As Claud's mind is opened by the intellectually privileged undergraduates with whom she seeks sanctuary, her senses are awakened by a kind of love she never even suspected might be tolerated, let alone supported.
Beyond the Valley of the Group will break your heart as Claudia grapples with her own identity, struggles to accept the love offered her by campus feminist firebrand, Beth Doswell, even at the cost of permanent estrangement from the parents who can never accept her as a Democrat, let alone a Lesbian. But, ultimately, as Claud and Beth become the first same-sex couple to challenge their state's adoption laws, as their love for one another sustains them and their daughter through the challenges and tragedies of two decades, you will cheer for the deservedly happy ending that comes to Ms. Surly's memorable, gutsy heroine.