by Valerie Miner
Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY
No. of Pages: 216
No. In Series:
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One of the few novels to center on the lived of older, working-class women, Winter’s Edge depicts the vibrant community that centers around one block in San Francisco’s downtown Tenderloin district in the late 1970s, home to people from all walks of life. Here, prostitutes, tourists, immigrants, senior citizens, shopowners, and the homeless coexist, living among the modest shops, cafes, and inexpensive, run-down apartment building’s near the city’s heart. And here, Chrissie MacInnes and Margaret Sawyer share an intense, long-time friendship and a deep love of their community. Chrissie, a waitress, prides herself on her uncompromising approach to life and on her commitment to political activism and feminism. Margaret, clerk in a neighborhood news shop, remains more conventional and less outspoken. A local election for the position of district supervisor pushes Chrissie and Margaret’s differences into conflict, threatening their unique friendship. Chrissie fights fiercely to defeat a corrupt candidate whose plan to redevelop the Tenderloin threatens to displace the local residents. Margaret prefers to remain uninvolved, turning her attention instead to her new romance with a loving, but weak-willed local minister. This conflict reaches dramatic climax when Chrissie’s activism is met with violence-violence which only Margaret, through a corageous act, can stop. Their compelling story affirms the inevitable links between the personal and the political, and the endurance of friendship amidst the pressures and challenges of growing old in a changing society. As Donna Perry writes in her afterword, ‘the novel’s power transcends ideology. It rests in the presentation of Chrissie and Margaret as complex, thoroughly believable women whose love for one another defies classification. The novel challenges us to abandon our stereotypes of what their lives might be like. ‘
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