The next (and belated) Pride Month review takes a look at LGBTQ+ history with this sapphic novel set in Chinatown written by a lesbian author. But this dives into more than just being queer.
Lily Hu is a first generation Chinese immigrant with a dream to help astronauts get into space. As she gets to know her classmate Katherine Miller she begins to understand more about herself. How she’s drawn to a romance between two women in a novel she picked up, and she’s mesmorised by a masculine presenting performer at a nightclub she frequents with Katherine. And then there’s the feelings she hasdeveloped for her. But in a time in history where deportation looms over her family and same sex relationships are illegal, Lily and Katherine will risk anything just to be together.
Lo’s writing style was captivating. It combined intelectual and insightful journeys through the mind with enchanting displays through Lily’s eyes, making it a very medium style that wasn’t a breeze to read over but you love to pick up every word and detail. I’m not normally a fan of slow pacing, but this novel was able to entrance me with how it took its time and built out the world. It was a pacing you wanted to take your time with.
Character was very well done across the board, from leading to minor characters. Lily and Katherine were obvious favourites with how well rounded they were, from their ambitions to discovering their love for each other. Their journey to lesbian romance was real and raw. It was never a shock, it just made sense. It developed naturally, and I loved that discovery.
This book felt very authentic to urban Chinese culture. I wouldn’t know much about it myself, but with what media outputs nowadays I can tell a good portrayal of a culture and a good story unique to a culture. This is one of them, especially with a niche aspect of that culture. It was great to read about three cultures in one – 50s, Chinese American, and lesbians. This is what really made the character feel well rounded above all else. Her identity was multi-sided, and it was amazing to see all sides of her, especially when other characters brought out aspects of her personality and identity in different ways.
So needless to say, Lily carried this novel.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club gets a score of 4.5/5. Many faces of a single person make a beautiful story.