Review of ‘Penny on Parade’ by Penny Taylor & Gill McKnight
Based on a true story and set in 1971 in Britain, Penny Taylor begins to realize that she’s not like all of the other straight girls in her hometown. Feeling trapped and angry, she chooses to broaden her horizons and joins up with the British Women’s Royal Army Corps. This lesbian memoir follows Penny’s life during the first 7 weeks of her time in basic training at Guildford, the Army’s all women’s training camp.
Don’t let the “based on a true story” tag fool you, this is no dry and boring non-fiction novel! ‘Penny on Parade’ has a lighthearted feel to it and reads much more like a fictional novel. Penny’s first few weeks in the military are fascinating and this story offers the reader a rare look into a major time in history when gay men and women were forced to hide their sexuality for fear of being discharged and humiliated. Penny found a way to not only survive but thrive in this world. Actually, at times Penny comes across as quite the player and while it does feel sensationalized in places, it’s definitely not a dull or dry non-fiction novel. At times humorous and also heartbreaking, this story is also packed full of secret rendezvous between closeted lesbians and quite a bit of antics. There’s a little bit of everything in this one for readers to enjoy.
I would be remiss to mention that the ending is quite abrupt, and doesn’t wrap up with a happily ever after, or even a happy for now that romance readers tend to expect. While all open storylines were wrapped up, I did feel that the ending was quite a bit too abrupt for my personal tastes. Even with that said, I still appreciate that the publisher allowed the author to tell her story as it happened, instead of binding Taylor to write an expected HEA or HFN ending. Rather than feeling forced, Taylor’s story and her personal experience itself was allowed to shine. As a reader, I appreciated that and enjoyed the opportunity to live a tiny part of a life that I would never have otherwise been able to experience. 3.5 stars
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.