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The Swashbuckler

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Greenwich Village... Provincetown... Travel with Frenchy Tonneau through these legendary gay meccas during the sixties and seventies when lesbian life changed forever.
Paperback, 279 pages
Published September 1st 1988 by Naiad Press (first published April 1985)
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The Swashbuckler is a true masterpiece. First published in the mid-1980s, it’s written in a way that’s timeless, making it possible for anyone in any generation to get a taste of the butch experience of the 1960s and 70s. In what can only be described as a stroke of genius, we get a couple of chapters in the first person from Mercedes, as if we’re reading her diary, even though most of the book is written in the third person from Frenchy’s perspective. It shakes up the reading experience in a wa ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lynch is an icon. No doubt about it. This book, written in 1985, is a gritty but very real portrayal of the NYC queer scene in the 60's and early 70's. It's just classic.

Written in two POV's, Mercedes and Frenchy, although Frenchy gets the lions work through most of the book. It's a 12 year story of growth and self acceptance. Oh the boxes we tick sometimes, and the roles we associate with them. We've come a long way Lee. Such a long way indeed.
Char Dafoe
Great things come in teeny tiny packages

This was a refreshing, fun, and eye opening read. This story took place well before I was born, but I couldn't help but feel nostalgic at times. The music, the atmosphere, the different mind frames, the clothes, even the au naturel way women groomed themselves back then. We follow Frenchy, a 4'11 leather-clad, diddy bopping, fag smoking, butch, in this tale of self discovery, love, lust, sex, and the ever present homophobia as well as racism. The story too
Such a beautiful story! Definitely one of the beast I've read. While some persons think on this story as a "portrait of a butch" I see it more like a very accurate description of the changes in lesbian life between the 60's and the early 70's, in which butch-femme role play were replaced by lesbian-feminism.
One of the most beautiful's thing I noted is it's accurate and respectful narrative from the point of view of a woman of color (Mercedes), something very strange in white authors. The writtin
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Damn. This book was a rough and wonderful read. I almost quit at the start with the very dated and gross treatment of femme characters, but the politics expanded beyond that and challenged the dichotomy of the times. Super great books. One of the best from my lesbian book club.
Ry Herman
This book has a good story, and it was nice to see the characters mature over time from shallow and messed-up to self-aware and together. It was also interesting to read about a time and a subculture both going through a great deal of flux. However, it was often hard for me to get past the dialogue, which a lot of times is very on the nose; the characters frequently psychoanalyze each other with pinpoint precision, in a way that seemed more designed to move the story along than to present a real ...more
Nairne Holtz
It’s 1960 and Frenchy Tonneau is a suave young butch who is in the closet. She works as a grocery store cashier in the Bronx and spends her weekends at lesbian bars in Greenwich Village, where she has perfected the rituals of masculine seduction but can’t bring her femmes home to the house she shares with her widowed mother. At first, Frenchy idolizes bar life, which provides her with community, romance, and the freedom to be butch, but as she gets a little older, she finds herself drawn to wome ...more
mr. kate
Jul 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Another sentimental lesbian novel...but this time about a butch who falls in love with *gasp* another butch...or alternately a book about two women who take ten years to get their lives together so they can be in love. The descriptions of NYC from the late 60s and early 70s are really interesting. It also deals with issues of race and of course queer kinships. I enjoyed this book, though it is a product of its time. Totally the kind of book you take to the beach or read on the subway to kill tim ...more
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: diddy-boppers
Shelves: gay-gay-gay
I love this Naiad Press butch-femme stuff.

And I maintain, you guys gotta see the cover of this book.
Sassafras Lowrey
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
a fun read if like me you are a fan of vintage lesbian fiction
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite Lee lynch book. I love the setting of New York in the 1960's it's a good history lesson. I read it when I was 10 or 11, so I think it was somehow instrumental in my developement. ...more
Martha Miller
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the best lesbian book I've ever read. I loved it. ...more
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Lee Lynch published her first lesbian fiction in “The Ladder” in the 1960s. Naiad Press issued Toothpick House, Old Dyke Tales, and more. Her novel The Swashbuckler was presented in NYC as a play scripted by Sarah Schulman. New Victoria Publishers brought out Rafferty Street, the last book of Lynch’s Morton River Valley Trilogy. Her backlist is becoming available in electronic format from Bold Str ...more

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