Book read: The Swashbuckler by Lee Lynch

April 25, 2009 at 6:28 pm 4 comments

I’m a little late writing this post about The Swashbuckler. I’ve left it for several weeks after finishing the book because I was waiting for the awe to subside and for my thoughts to gather.

Lee Lynch is an icon in the world of lesbian writing. She’s been out and proud since the 50s/60s? and has been writing faithfully since then. I use the word faithfully in another sense too – in her writings, she’s archived the lesbian scene of the times and her ages.

Read her short and modest bibliography here and here, before continuing this post.

The Swashbuckler is Frenchy Tonneau, a petite, stone butch with a solid ego, who – in her hated daylife – lives with her mother and works as a cashier. You’d think Lee Lynch had presented a set character as prop to show the changing world of the 60s and 70s, but the book is about Frenchy growing and maturing,  through her friends, lovers, other lesbians, the Village and Provincetown, to finally take the lover she has been waiting for.

Frenchy never loses her butchness but she sees, or rather we see, her old-fashioned mentality, how she loses or retains the views that make her comfortable and becomes an older, wiser Frenchy. In the process, we meet the neurotic butch, Mercedes, who understands pain and love deeply and whom Frenchy unexpectedly falls in love with, dyke couples who do and don’t follow the rules, and the colourful residents of the Village, including Pamela, the gypsy hippie artist who sexes Frenchy out of her stone shell.

Lee’s writing is honest, almost brusque. Her characters are diverse and oh so interesting because she lets us see what they see. The book is about the journeys her characters take to grow, to stay lesbian, to make their relationships work. The issues they face are real, the learning incremental.  I found it refreshing to read a non-adjective laden book that is layered in humanistic issues, that starts without a promise and ends in a rainbow. There’s a lot to take in; the New York it protrays is gritty, blue-collar and ethnic, and the times were forcing Frenchy to evolve.

To pick  one lesbian and show the reader so much about the micro-environment that is the Village and the effect it has on her, at a time when very little was written about lesbians at all, marks this book as a lesbian classic.

The Swashbuckler is a beautiful story.


Lee Lynch has been published with several publishers. Her current books and backlist may be obtained from here.

The Swashbuckler is available from here.

A special post-script Frenchy story, written last year, can be found in Second Helpings, Read These Lips Volume 2 at

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Entry filed under: Authors, Champions, Lesbian lit. Tags: .

The greatest library in the world Bit chilly

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lee Lynch  |  April 26, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Sometimes I wonder why I write. You and readers like you, must be why.
    Thank you. Your words are nourishing and validating.

  • 2. evecho  |  April 27, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Lee, it was a pleasure to read your book. Even today, The Swashbuckler shines. Your writing humbles many contemporary books. Thank you for continuing to show us what we need to remember.

  • 3. Fran Walker  |  May 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    OMG, that is a GREAT book. Highly highly highly highlyhighlyhighlyhighlyhighlyhighly recommended.

    • 4. evecho  |  May 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm



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Evecho’s newsy bits

News, updates and links from the lesbian and publishing ‘verse that interest me, my current projects, keeping up with authors and sharing musings on middle-class life, gourmet adventures and comparisons between East/West perspectives. My opinions will likely be linearly logical and gayly bent, as they tend to be.