For readers of Saidiya Hartman and Jeanette Winterson, Lesbian Love Story is an intimate journey into the archives—uncovering the romances and role models written out of history and what their stories can teach us all about how to love
When Amelia Possanza moved to Brooklyn to build a life of her own, she found herself surrounded by queer stories: she read them on landmark placards, overheard them on the pool deck when she joined the world’s largest LGBTQ swim team, and even watched them on TV in her cockroach-infested apartment. These stories inspired her to seek out lesbians throughout history who could become her role models, in romance and in life.
Centered around seven love stories for the ages, this is Possanza’s journey into the archives to recover the personal histories of lesbians in the twentieth century: who they were, how they loved, why their stories were destroyed, and where their memories echo and live on. Possanza’s hunt takes readers from a drag king show in Bushwick to the home of activists in Harlem and then across the ocean to Hadrian’s Library, where she searches for traces of Sappho in the ruins. Along the way, she discovers her own love—for swimming, for community, for New York City—and adds her record to the archive.
At the heart of this riveting, inventive history, Possanza asks: How could lesbian love help us reimagine care and community? What would our world look like if we replaced its foundation of misogyny with something new, with something distinctly lesbian?
About the Author
A full-time book publicist and part-time writer, Amelia Possanza currently lives in Brooklyn with her cat. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Electric Literature, The Millions, and NPR’s Invisibilia. Lesbian Love Story is her first book.
NPR, A Best Book of the Year Esquire, A Best LGBTQ Book of the Year Harper’s Bazaar, A Best Book of 2023 Publishers Weekly, A Best Book of the Year Shelf Awareness, A Best Book of the Year
Named a Most Anticipated Book by Time, BuzzFeed, Them, Literary Hub, Zibby's Mag, and more
"The stories are deeply researched and imaginatively told through a mix of historical record, primary sources, invented scenes and the author’s own wrestling with the meaning of what she finds. Possanza challenges the history we’re taught, one that codifies and reproduces heteronormativity." —Brittany Cronin, NPR
"Lesbian Love Story boasts an inventive blend of genres. Amelia Possanza spins together memoir, archival nonfiction, and fictional passages with ease." —Laura Zornosa, Time
"Their stories [are] brought to life by Ms. Possanza’s deft hand and careful research . . . Possanza’s insistence on naming what might once have had to go unnamed is a hallmark of the book." —Shannon Reed, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Warmhearted and sexy." —Keziah Weir, Vanity Fair
"A brilliant and beautifully written ode to women who love women and the importance of their visibility." —Arianna Rebolini, Vulture
"This book sings with stories . . . Propulsive and beautiful, Lesbian Love Story is a book true to its name." —Sarah Neilson, Shondaland
"At once a yearning search for a mirror in the fogged glass of history and an uproariously funny skewering of modern queer stereotypes, Lesbian Love Story will radically expand your understanding of lesbianism—and of love itself." —Charley Burlock, Oprah Daily
“'Beautiful' feels like a cliche way to describe a book about love . . . but this one simply is." —The Skimm
"An extraordinary work of love for the community . . . At its core, Lesbian Love Story is a plea to its readers to fight for fairness in every sphere of our society, where queer love represents freedom for all." —Andrea Marks-Joseph, Real Change News
"The historical gravitas weaved through the author’s personal reflections is balanced by beautiful prose. This is for fans of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers and for people who love damn good writing. The passion leaps off the page." —Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful
"[Possanza] expertly weaves in the stories of her own life that have some relation to the stories she’s unearthed for us. Through the stories of these other women, we learn about Possanza’s struggles and successes in coming out, creating and sustaining relationships, and grappling with her gender and gender expression. It creates an interesting reflective effect where we see how Possanza’s own life experiences connect to the lives of the people in the book while also making us contemplate the ways we’re connected, as well . . . An introspective reminder about how much we owe to the people who came before us and how much we can learn from their example.." —Stef Rubino, Autostraddle
"Possanza puts together a history of lesbianism that’s filled with care, warmth, love, and community . . . Reading this book feels like having a passionate conversation with a good friend whose special interests perfectly align with yours. Lesbian Love Story is charming, heartfelt, and wonderfully gay." —McKayla Cole, Literary Hub
"Writing with empathy, wit, and imagination, Possanza constructs a personal, political, and romantic history of lesbian life and love." —The Millions, A Most Anticipated Read
"Possanza’s centuries-spanning document–which melds her own story with hidden, intimate histories of drag kings and olympians, artists and activists–is a manifesto of love: of erotic love and platonic love, of familial and communal love, and maybe most importantly, self-love." —Michelle Hart, An Electric Literature Most Anticipated Book of 2023
"In her audacious heartthrob of a memoir, Amelia Possanza revives seven queer romances from the past, hoping to better understand her own lesbian identity . . . A triumph, as romantic as it is perceptive." —Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"Each chapter historicizes a lesbian love story, spanning from antiquity through the 1990s to offer a lively mix . . . Possanza digs into the details of their lives with passionate engagement, frequently turning the narrative from the archival subject back to herself and exploring personal topics . . . She imagines the scenes she longs to see, engaging with history not as a disembodied historian but as a young lesbian who wants answers, who wants to find her people." —Kelly Blewett, BookPage (starred review)
"In her impressive debut, Possanza stitches together personal memoir, painstaking research, and fictional imaginings with a fluid style and a sure hand . . . This is an outstanding work of literary scholarship that also delivers a vulnerable, intimate portrait of its author." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"An archive of queer love and community by a talented storyteller . . . Part personal memoir, part archival research, [Lesbian Love Story] expertly weaves together stories of lesbians across time with a historian’s precision and a novelist’s pacing. Bringing together seven epic love stories across eras, ranging from the classical Greek poet Sappho and her lover Anactoria to lesbian caretakers in the AIDS crisis extending beyond romantic boundaries, Possanza cultivates a worthy collection of lesbian love stories . . . Throughout, the prose is warm, personal, and accessible. Detailed and immensely readable, this is a generous history of lesbian love." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A creative, joyful approach to the queer past. Lesbian Love Story weaves together history, memoir, and theory in this refreshing work of historical imagination. A very smart love letter to lesbians across time." —Jen Manion, author of Female Husbands: A Trans History
"Amelia Possanza’s Lesbian Love Story is a tender and sensual swim through lesbian history—thoroughly researched and brought to dazzling life by Possanza’s imaginative prose." —Hugh Ryan, author of When Brooklyn Was Queer
"Lesbian Love Story cracks open a vault of queer lives that were so meaningful to dig into—sporty girls, masc forbears, illicit loves. These juicy stories are filled with pathos and inspiration, and Ameila Possanza's thrill at excavating them is personal, palpable and contagious." —Michelle Tea, author of Knocking Myself Up: A Memoir of My In/Fertility
"Intimate and sexy, voraciously researched and vibrantly imagined, Amelia Possanza has given us the romantic history all lesbians deserve." —Nina LaCour, author of Yerba Buena