That which we call a rose by any other name is just as sweet, and the love between a black musician and a white writer can be just touching in LOVING HER, Ann Allen Shockley’s tragic story about an interracial romance.
When the novel begins, Renay Lee is packing her suitcase and trying quietly to escape with her daughter, Denise, to escape her abusive, alcoholic husband, Jerome. The mother and daughter run to Terry Bluvard, a wealthy white woman Renay’s fallen in love with. They live together quite nicely and Renay finally feels free from Jerome Lee’s suffocating grasp.
Renay met Terry while working as a musician in an upscale supper club, and introduces herself to the writer after she requests a song. It was something Terry that drew her to the woman so different from herself, a woman who grew up with a silver spoon her mouth, compared to Renay’s meager upbringing. Here was a woman who with one touch could make her feel things she never though possible, after years of detached feeling with Jerome Lee. Things at home with her husband are worse than ever and the last straw comes when Jerome sells her beloved piano, the one thing her hard-working mother was able to give her daughter.
So she runs to Terry, a woman who is able to give her what she’s been missing: love. They make a great home together, for themselves and Denise. Jerome Lee is a miserable mess, and tries his hardest to make life a living hell for her, terrorizing her and stalking their home at every turn. He can’t fathom that Renay can actually make it without him, and tries his hardest to get her back.
It all comes to a head when Jerome Lee discovers whom she left him for, and his outrage is evident: Renay’s left him for a woman! His anger leads to tragic events, and Renay has to figure out whether her guilt will allow her to love a woman despite the pain their relationship has caused.
Shockley makes it quite clear that love has no boundaries in Loving Her. Black or white, genuine affection is what’s most important. She doesn’t sugarcoat the romance between Renay and Terry, as they encounter many roadblocks to their love. Shockley spells out their pitfalls and outlines their sensitive love story with care. Flowery writing is still her trademark, and although it makes the story too long-winded at times, it kind of works here, keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Loving Her is a great love story for anyone who believes in beating the odds.
Reviewed February 2006