BRIGHT LIGHTS OF SUMMER
2015 GOLDIE Winner for
BEST HISTORICAL FICTION
It's March, 1941. Captain America appears in a comic book for the very first time. New York City receives 18.1 inches of snow, its 3rd largest snowfall in history. In Holland, the Nazi occupiers forbid Jews to own businesses. In Poland, Heinrich Himmler inspects Auschwitz. World War II is raging in Europe, but America has yet to enter the fray.
And in Phoenix, Arizona, a 16-year-old scrap of a girl named Theodora "Dizzy" Hosler, takes the field to try out for the World Champion P.B.S.W. Ramblers softball team.
Set against the backdrop of perhaps the most dramatic time in US history, comes the story of Diz and Frannie, two women fueled by an unquenchable passion for the game of softball and feelings for each other that go far beyond the bounds of friendship. Will their love for the game bring them closer together or tear them apart?
Lynn Ames Reading
audio excerpt for -
BRIGHT LIGHTS OF SUMMER
From Curve Magazine:
“Bright Lights of Summer is a delightful and nostalgic tale that brings together the love of softball and a sweetheart romance set against the backdrop of the Second World War.”
“Lynn Ames is the queen of storytelling. She takes a setting and brings it alive for the reader. She recreates the mood, the feel – the texture of life in a bygone era for us to relive.”
See the full text of the Curve Magazine review of Bright Lights of Summer here: http://www.curvemag.com/Bright-Lights-of-Summer-by-Lynn-Ames-258/#.VHuqjbCcj0w.twitter
FROM THE LESBIAN REVIEW
Bright Lights Of Summer by Lynn Ames is a wonderful historical romance enriched with the details and facts of the time period in which it is written. If Ames had not said it was a work of fiction, I would believe this was a true story.
In 1941 Phoenix, Arizona, Theodora “Dizzy” Holser isn’t worried about the war happening in Europe or any other worldly events. The only thing she is worried about is her try-out for the World Champion P.B.S.W. Ramblers softball team. For her it is the ultimate goal, and a position on the roster is the ultimate prize. On the day of her try-out, she meets her competition in the form of a spunky red-head named Frannie. As they compete against each other, they gain mutual respect and admiration for each other’s talents. Eventually they develop a friendship, which quickly turns into a romance. But being a lesbian in Arizona in 1941 is not easy. Dizzy and Frannie must not only be conscious about possible exposure, they must also navigate the changes in the world that could impact their future together.
At one of the most dramatic times in US history, can these two women find a way to be together? Or will the world and its politics tear them apart?
The 1940s is the perfect setting for this story and its characters. In that time period, there was a change in the air for women and what was expected of them. Some wanted to continue the more traditional route of being a wife and homemaker. And others wanted to blaze their own trails. Ames is able to represent and respect both of these groups very well with her descriptions of Diz and Frannie. These women embody both styles of that time. Instead of being opposites in their views of what a woman is and can be, they complement and bring out the best in each other that neither woman expected but embraced whole-heartedly.
Diz is sixteen years old, and while she does have a passion for softball, she still embodies what was expected of a woman in that time. She is a little shy, self-conscious, and she has her whole life already planned out, which includes getting a job as a librarian and getting married someday. It’s what she knows and what she was raised to believe would happen. Once Frannie enters her world, however, she suddenly sees that there are possibilities that she never considered.
Frannie represents the individuality women are pursuing around this time in history. She is confident, independent, and, according to Diz, a real spitfire. She’s had a tough life and Ames does well to make that a part of who she is yet not define her as a person. While Frannie allows Diz to be brave and confident, Diz allows her to be grounded and feel like she is part of something special.
The Writing Style
I love how Ames uses the interview/flashback format to tell this story. While the interview is established at the beginning, Ames is very careful not to let it overtake and distract from Diz and Frannie’s tale. She uses it sparingly and only re-introduces it when absolutely necessary, such as when Diz needs to progress the timetable. It’s a clever way to tell this detailed historical romance without having the story become obscene in length.
While this is a romance story, it is also a pretty accurate historical account of the sport of softball and the women who played it in the 1940s. Like most people, I have seen the movie “A League of Their Own,” yet I always knew that artistic licensing was applied to the making of that film. Ames does a good job of filling in the gaps and giving a more accurate account of the league’s development, as well as the rules and regulations that were presented to facilitate a non-lesbian image among the players. What makes all this detail so pleasing is that it doesn’t deter from Diz and Frannie’s story. All of it is very intricate and important to the development of these characters and the journey they go through together.
This isn’t a big thing, but I liked how in the first chapter I didn’t know the name of the interviewer. I felt that if Ames was able to continue to withhold that little detail, it would’ve truly made it just Diz and Frannie’s story without outside influence or prompting. That being said, I do love how Ames used the interviewer minimally through the story and allowed Diz to relive her favorite, and heartbreaking, moments with Frannie.
If you love softball and wanted to know the history of the sport, especially around the time the A.A.W.B.L. was formed, this is the best reference you can have. In addition, you learn more about the actual players and women who lived in that time because Ames pulls them straight from history and has them interact with the characters she created. It makes you wish that Diz and Frannie were real people you could meet, talk to, and learn from them about what it was like to love in a time when it was hard to do so.