Saturday, 4 June 2016

Spinsters' Rock by Caeia March

Spinsters' Rock by Caeia March
Published by The Women's Press in July 1999.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Hands

I registered a copy of this book at Bookcrossing

How I got this book:
Swapped for at Dornafield campsite book exchange

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a teenager in the late 1980s and early 1990s I went through a phase of reading Women's Press books, easily spotting their distinctive black and white spines in bookshops, but the books are harder to find now so I made a point to swap for Spinsters' Rock when I saw the novel in a book exchange last month. Set in two time periods - the late 1980s and then the late 1990s - the novel actually follows on from a previous Caeia March book, Three Ply Yarn, which I don't remember having read, but I had no problem with missing information in Spinsters' Rock. It works well as a standalone story in its own right.

At the beginning, lesbian couple Dee and Lotte discover a pair of derelict cottages near Brighton in Sussex and decide they must buy and renovate them. In the process of creating an idyllic rural home they also find themselves sharing their house with troubled teenager Gail who has nowhere else to go. Through the calm environment and supportive friendship offered by Dee and Lotte, Gail begins to heal, growing more confident in herself and eventually reaching out to help others around her as she was helped. Spinsters' Rock is very much a novel of friendship and women being strong for themselves and for other women. The fairly large cast of interlinked characters take it in turns to be the focus of chapters and we learn about their lives through conversations and letters. I didn't always find it easy to differentiate between speakers as some are not especially well defined and their stories seemed more like the recounting of real life events, picked and chosen without a strong overall narrative. This style took a little getting used to and felt like the slowing of life from town living to country retreat, a theme of the book that rang very true.

Sometimes I did think Spinsters' Rock had dated somewhat, other times it felt almost like historical fiction. Although published in 1999, it accurately evoked the 1980s - the fears surrounding Clause 28 legislation and the dreams and goals of lesbian women at that time. The dialogue isn't always convincing and I found elements of the spirituality too heavy handed. However I did enjoy the recounting of Spinsters' Rock's mythical history and, as the novel progressed, I was drawn more and more into the lives of these women.

Etsy Find!
by Free Will Shirts in
Cardiff, Wales

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Books by Caeia March / LGBT books / Books from England


  1. My copy of Spinsters' Rock by Caeia March is now listed on eBay. Auction closes Sun 21st at 11.27 BST

  2. My copy of Spinsters' Rock has been left for Bookcrossing on the Rowcroft Hospice table at Torquay Indoor Market