Testimony is based on a real-life case against a professor at UCLA suspended in 1952 (without pay) after being observed through her own window kissing another woman.
Can you say invasion of privacy?
Sorry, I digress.
Testimony’s main character, Gen, is based on the very real professor Martha Deane. I don’t know if Gen’s personality was entirely her own, or if it was borrowed from Professor Deane, but to me, Gen seemed as real as you or me. I could hear her voice in my head as she taught, as she had drinks with Fenton and tried to live life under the social-police radar. My heart broke for Fenton, and there were a few times I just wanted to pour him a drink and tell him it would get better.
All of the characters stood in their own limelight – sharply crafted, finely tuned in their own ways and each with their own struggles. Ruby became a favourite of mine too.
The homophobia of that time period was written as an appropriately tense undercurrent that dominated the entire landscape of the novel. You couldn’t help feel the danger underlying every decision, every conversation and almost every character. Over this dark skeleton, the author built a highly readable tale that stays with the reader long after the last word of the acknowledgements has been consumed.
This is a novel that should be required reading. For everyone. This is a novel that should be an award-winner.
Go get a copy at Bywater Books. Tell them Carolyn sent you.