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Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write about Leaving Men for Women

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  405 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
The new buzzword in female sexuality is ?sexual fluidityOCO?the idea that for many women, sexual identity can shift over time, often in the direction of same-sex relationships. Examples abound in popular culture, from actress Cynthia Nixon, who left her male partner of 15 years to be with a woman, to writer and comedienne Carol Leifer, who divorced her husband for the same ...more
ebook, 273 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Seal Press (CA) (first published April 28th 2009)
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I had heard a lot of praise for Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women (edited by Candace Walsh and Laura Andre) by the time I finally picked it up. So, I was expecting good things. This book, however, managed to actually exceed my expectations. It was so refreshing to read an entire book filled with a different kind of coming out story. I’ve never identified with the “I’ve always known”, or the “I was a gender non-conforming kid so it figures”, or the “I fell in love wi ...more
Sep 30, 2011 Mandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I was very excited to find this book at my library as I was doing one of my routine sweeps of the "homosexual shelf." I'd spent hours there looking for just one book that would speak to what I was going through. I'd read several books about lesbian coming out stories, trying to find myself in them, but repeatedly read stories of young girls knowing they were different from early on. That wasn't my experience and I was starting to think I was crazy or completely unique in my situation. And then I ...more
Loren Olson
Dec 24, 2010 Loren Olson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much of what has been written about coming out centers on the struggle of late adolescence and early adulthood. The focus on my research has been men who come out in midlife. I purposely chose to ignore women in order to limit the scope of my work. So when I saw this book, I was curious to know if women who come out in mid-life have experiences similar to men who come out after having lived a heterosexual life.

After reading this book, I found a number of parallels:

1. Many have been married and d
Nov 05, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm biased because my story is in this book!lol

It's a bit disheartening to read that some found the book boring because these are true stories of people's lives. Everyday is not like a movie. You don't walk down the street with a theme song playing! But, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

That said, I had the great fortune to meet a couple of the authors and they were just fascinating as their essays. This book is a timely look at what is happening for a lot of women - we are starting to feel
Jul 25, 2015 Marlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2015
"I won’t insult my past self by saying I was in denial or confused. I am a textbook example of the fluidity of sexuality." - From the book. I'm someone who was surprised to discover that I fell in love with and desired women. It has been an equally surprising discovery to recognize and admit to myself that I also desire and fall in love with men. I loathe labels but I constantly find myself searching for the right one. So, it was refreshing to read this book of stories on what really amounts to ...more
Jun 14, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Dear John, I Love Jane was eye-opening but left quite a bit of pain to be desired. Forgive the possibly sadomasochistic oxymoron, as pain rarely falls under the category of desirable. Nevertheless, the book lacks the naturally suggested heartache — even destruction — in the stories of women leaving behind devoted partners and choosing lovers of a completely different orientation, often in addition to leaving children and established families.

Despite the assumed tragedy in such stories, most of t
Lisa M.
I have read this before. I also own a few books on this topic, and wrote a research paper on mixed-orientation marriages in college. I feel like I have some academic knowledge in the field.

As far as I know, this is the most contemporary book on this topic. There are books that were published in the 80s and 90s on it. While American culture is not exactly accepting of homosexuality at this point, it's a lot better than it used to be. This book tells drastically different stories than the others d
Emily Rhoads
Aug 13, 2011 Emily Rhoads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a review of this book that said it had too many essays in it, that the editors were not editorial enough. I couldn't disagree more. Every single essay in this book resonated with me in some way. The fluidity of sexuality is explored from every point of view in this collection of essays about women realizing later in life that they love women. Some realize they were lesbians all along, and some realize it's not black and white and that maybe its just a particular woman they are in love wit ...more
It was good to read this collection of many women's accounts of being attracted to women after being attracted to men. While there were similarities across the board, there were a lot of differences with each woman's story, too.

Some of the writers (almost all of whom are from the US) had literally never been sexually attracted to women before whatsoever, and it all came as a bolt from the blue. Others always had, but they married men despite this, for a variety of reasons. Some women awakened p
Jun 07, 2011 Erika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, so good. And that's saying a lot because I usually dislike essay compilations. Jeanette Leblanc is exquisite, Meredith Maran is hilarious and so right on...all of them are worth reading and impossible to put down.
Aug 15, 2011 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book during the summer Kindle sale at Amazon, both because it was cheap and because the subject matter is something new for me. As can be garnered from the title, this book is about women who came to love women later in life, often after having been in good relationships with men, sometimes married and with children. There are some very good stories in here, encompassing as wide a range of experience as possible given the limited subject. The most powerful stories, to me at leas ...more
Nikki Frankel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2015 Miri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-studies, sex
I loved this. It was so affirming.

My one little quibble is that one of the authors refers to herself proudly as a "gold star lesbian" (for those not in the know, it's a somewhat self-aggrandizing term used by lesbians who have never in their lives had sex/relationships with men). Considering that this is a book about women who leave men for other women, which is a demographic that's often shamed and shunned by these so-called "gold star lesbians," the use of that term seems really out of place i
Jun 26, 2015 Isobel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As in any anthology, some of the essays in this collection are better than others. Some are so full of hateful language toward other lesbians (one author referred to "creatures" with hairy upper lips and "rhombus-shaped bodies") that I was put off. You'd think that people seeking acceptance and understanding from the world would not be so shallow and dismissive of others. Some of these essays really reek of what I can only describe as "femme privilege." Unsettling.
Grace Elayne Garber
Great stories. Showed me how complicated coming out of the closet must be, and how it affects other people's lives.
I also feel terrible for the men who are left by their wives and girlfriends, but I suppose if the relationship isn't genuine...

Borrowed from the public library.
Feb 03, 2016 Solitarysoul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally! This book was great! Intelligent adult women writing their experiences honestly. I also appreciated how fondly men were regarded. I would highly recommend this book.
Apr 10, 2011 Shanna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I was the right audience for this book. I thought the frequent references to stereotypical images of lesbians was damaging and unexpected.
I love starting the new year off with a good book and this one certainly did not disappoint. This collection of essays written by women who have uncovered their attraction to women later in life. Though I originally checked the book out because the topic is something that interests me and I can relate to, I recommend that it be read by family members who might be struggling to understand their daughter/sister/niece/aunt/whatever better. I found myself highlighting so many sections of this book b ...more
Erzabet Bishop
This book blew me away. That is a wonderful thing. I can still remember seeing the cover and going DJILJ is going to be a powerful book. It was. It is. It made me laugh and cry and snort through my nose at times but one thing it did was show me a completely different side of lesbian life that I hadn't really considered. Women can change who they love. They do it every day. It isn't easy-for anyone. Especially if you are married to a man, have a family and all of a sudden your life shifts ...more
This was a really fascinating collection! One or two of the essays annoyed me in their style - too far into 'experimental short story' mode, IMHO. Some hit home very close for me, especially those concerning out-of-the-blue revelations ('I didn't come out as a lesbian until... I had no idea I was!'). A few were in part set in Australia, and that also felt true and real - the description of gendered expections in an outback mining town, for instance. Others were utterly foreign to me but complete ...more
Maria Elmvang
I picked this book up, not really knowing what to expect, and put it down again, not really knowing what I thought. I'm obviously not the target audience, and as such I thought it fell a little flat... or rather, it was a tad one-dimensional. I would have appreciated essays from the ex-husbands and children as well in order to tell the full story.

The essays were all well-written though, so all in all it made for a solid average read.
Mar 10, 2014 Kirsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book at first, because I really related to a couple of the coming-out stories, but then they turned into the same-old, same-old story, sort of cliched and some were just written badly. This could be a great resource for women who realize they are lesbians after they are married, or have been dating men for a while. But it also felt a little sensationalist and exploitative to me. So I ended up skimming it to the end.
Many of the stories are the same, just told in different voices. While it's not surprising (what else would one expect from a theme anthology really?), it doesn't make for very good reading if you try to just sit down and read it straight (gayly?) through. It's nice to read about women who come out later in life, because it makes me feel less guilty about being a "bad" lesbian (i.e. dating guys because I was too scared of girls until last year). I recommended this to a friend years ago, because ...more
patrycja polczyk
Well, to be honest I expected something better. Some of the stories were ok and well written, I think my two faves are the one about Mormon lady and the one about lady in her `60 or `70. Rest was either average or even annoying. I`ve skipped some pages at the end too. It`s not a bad book, I can relate to some of this stories, but it wasn`t exactly what I expected it to be. Can`t exactly say what I expected... But I guess most of this stories are too optimistic - with all the supportive friends a ...more
Jul 27, 2016 Lydia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite sort of nonfiction, with women just telling their stories in an honest way. Some of the essays were better than others, but the ones that were good were AMAZING. I saw myself so much in certain essays that I felt they could have been written by me, as a lesbian who did not always know she was one. Soo far from it. It's so refreshing to get coming out stories that more closely mirror my own, counter to the typical narrative, and it helped me feel normal for having this seeming ...more
Aug 29, 2014 Taryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book I'd normally pick up but it's a fascinating subject. The stories are very heartfelt.
Jan 24, 2016 Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Instantly one of my favorite books.
Maggie Smith
I think this book should be required reading for anyone who knows anyone who has had this or a similar experience. Perhaps not the entire book because I got bored after a while, hence the three stars, but maybe the chapter entitled "A Door Opens Out" by Susan Grier.

All the stories are unique yet remind people in this or a similar situation that in fact, they really are not that unique after all. Not unique, but certainly brave for making difficult decisions & changes in their own lives to l
Elizabeth Alley
Dec 30, 2011 Elizabeth Alley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Candace Walsh is the author of Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity (Seal Press, 2012). She is also the editor of two anthologies, Dear John, I Love Jane; and Ask Me About My Divorce, both by Seal Press. She writes the Good Taste column at, and is the managing editor at New Mexico Magazine. She was the features editor at Mothering Magazine for 6 years. She lives ...more
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