Venus Envy by Rita Mae Brown
Gay & Lesbian | Literature & Fiction
Rita Mae Brown
Bantam; 1st edition (May 1993)
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At thirty-five, Mary Frazier Armstrong, called "Frazier" by friends and enemies alike, is a sophisticated green-eyed blonde with a thriving art gallery, a healthy bank balance, and an enviable social position. In fact, she has everything to live for, but she's lying in a hospital bed with a morphine drip in her arm and a life expectancy measured in hours. "Don't die a stranger" Mandy Eisenhart, her assistant at the gallery, says on her last hospital visit. "Tell the people you love who you are, or write them." And so, as her last act here on earth, Frazier writes letters to her closest family and friends, telling them exactly what she thinks of them and, since she will be dead by the time they receive the letters, the truth about herself: She's gay.
The letters are sent. Then the manure hits the fan in Charlottesville, Virginia ... because Frazier Armstrong wakes up the next morning to hear her doctor explaining that it's all been a mistake. Frazier can look forward to a long, happy life. But if this formerly dutiful daughter isn't dying, she certainly seems to be facing a descent into hell: Her mother, Libby, committee woman extraordinaire,is throwing a hissy fit; her best friend, the gay hunk Billy Cicero, is cutting her dead; her former lover, Ann, is having hysterics now that "everyone is going to know"; and her gorgeous, charming brother Carter whose two favorite activities are getting drunk and getting laid, is gleefully spreading the word that his can-do-no-wrong sister is a dyke.
Yet Frazier soon realizes she's spent her whole life steeling herself against people, and hiding - and not just because she is gay. After three decades of having "a near-life experience," she is determined to make a new beginning - as a brash, brazen, and totally irresistible woman who will raise the act of coming out of the closet into an art form.
Rita Mae Brown once told an interviewer "Next time anyone calls me a lesbian writer I'm going to knock their teeth in. I'm a writer and I'm a woman and I'm from the South and I'm alive, and that is that." Frazier Armstrong couldn't have put it better.