Tomboy: A Jane Benjamin Novel

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It’s 1939. The world is slowly emerging from the Depression while lurching toward the Second World War. Jane Benjamin is emerging as well, from the child of dirt-poor migrant workers to an independent young woman with a career as a reporter on The Prospect, a daily newspaper in San Francisco.

It’s a tough go for Jane. Women are hardly as liberated as they are today. They are relegated to specific roles in society and that includes the newspaper industry. Her only chance of breaking in to come up with a “scoop”, a front-page worth story that no other newspaper has. Not only does she have career challenges, but she’s taken custody of Elsie, her toddler half-sister and shares the caregiving with her reluctant friend, Rivka.

Through a series of misadventures, Jane gets chance to accompany The Prospects publisher on a transcontinental/trans-Atlantic journey to England to cover the world famous Wimbledon Tennis Tournament. One of the competitors is a charismatic local girl, Tommie O’Rourke, and that alone would make a big story, though another angle to consider would be the growing animosity between the athlete and her coach, Edith Carlson. Tommie prevails at Wimbledon, but “Coach” doesn’t do so well, succumbing to what appears to be a heart attack while watching the match.

Coach’s sudden and mysterious demise, the appearance of her eccentric niece, Tommie’s overzealous protective brother and the enigmatic “captain of industry” Adam Lowe present more questions than Jane’s got answers for. So, like any good reporter, she does a bit of snooping and what she finds out is that Tommie and Coach had more than just a professional relationship.

Now that’s a story, one that if revealed, would be scandalous and ruin Tommie. Jane’s torn between her budding friendship for the tennis star and her desire for a successful career. Before she can decide she discovers the interests of others could also be compromised if the truth comes and just how far they’ve gone and will go to keep it concealed.

In Tomboy- A Jane Benjamin Novel, author Shelley Blanton-Stroud introduces a reluctant antiheroine who struggles to overcome the circumstances of her birth, parenting and social conventions of the time. As the intriguing mystery unfolds, interspersed with context flashbacks of Jane’s childhood, the reader is immersed in the history of the 1930’s including modes of transportation, emerging technologies, social mores and morals.

The decisions and the consequences the protagonist has to consider in Tomboy have changed radically since then, but the reader is reminded gender equality and equal rights for the LGBTQ community still have a long way to go.


Reviewed By:

Author Shelley Blanton-Stroud
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 312 pages
Publisher She Writes Press
Publish Date 28-Jun-2022
ISBN 9781647424077
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue August 2022
Category Popular Fiction
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