Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Desert of the Heart

As I was browsing my feeds, I discovered this item from the New York Times: Jane Rule, Canadian Novelist, Dies at 76. Who was Jane Rule, you might ask? Jane Rule was a pioneer of lesbian fiction. Her best known work, Desert of the Heart, was published in 1964, long before there was a visible gay rights movement. Desert of the Heart is about Vivian Bell, a professor who goes to Las Vegas for a quickie divorce and bonds with with a younger woman who works in a casino. The book is really about human relationships, so it's accessible to all except those who consider same-sex relationships a sin or morally reprehensible.

The novel was made into a movie Desert Hearts over 20 years later. The movie starred Helen Shaver as Vivian, Patricia Charbonneau as Vivian's young lover, and Audra Lindley, as the owner of the ranch where Vivian stays - the last best known for playing Mrs. Roper on Three's Company! Likewise, the movie is about human relationships, but it also features an explicit lesbian scene. Madonna was so smitten with Alex McArthur, who played Walter, that she cast him as her boyfriend in her Papa Don't Preach video.

I saw the movie, then read the book. Both are worthwhile. Jane Rule's obit made me recall both.

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