Reader's Reviews by avid Transita reader Linda Priestley

Is Transita Wearing the Wrong Briefs?

From what I’ve garnered from the press, and the way Transita’s books have been somewhat disparagingly nicknamed ‘hen lit’, you might think so. But I’ve now read 3 of Transita’s books, and I’m beginning to understand what they’re doing and why.

It’s the age thing that upsets people, I think. Transita’s desire to have the protagonist female, over 45, cerebrally equipped to cope with the problems facing her, sounds at the very least contrived, or worse, it sounds threatening or even silly. It conjures visions of cardboard characters whose chief asset is their venerable age, leaping in and out of each other’s beds. Ludicrous. But Tranista’s books are not like that at all.

Why do publishing houses have this almost teenage attitude to sex? When I was a teenager, the thought that my parents were sexually active was profoundly shocking. What business had they having sex at their age? They’d produced my siblings, they’d produced me…they shouldn’t be having sex now they were over 40. Is the attitude of the publishing houses a reflection of what society feels; that once over 45, the reproductive machinery rusts up with a sexual arthritis? That having produced the next generation of Bright Young Things, the over 45s should sit back gracefully and dream of conquests past?

In Scuba Dancing was that the age issue wasn’t immediately apparent. The characters came across as people, not people-of-a-certain-age. This isn’t a novel written to a rigid, comfortable, non-threatening, easy to sell formula. It’s an adventure away from the hackneyed clichés of the tall, dark, slightly dangerous young hero, and the sultry, vacant, ever so slightly vulnerable younger heroine. Yes, it’s a romance, but the romance isn’t the only enjoyable aspect of the story. It’s a very amusing read.

In Elissa’s Castle, we have the Penelope figure fending off suitors, but instead of sitting back, weaving, and waiting for the returning Odysseus, she’s sorting her own future out, thank you very much. You get the sense that any returning Odysseus would get short shrift. In this novel, it’s not an age issue, so much as a maturity issue. In many novels, where the protagonist is the young, adventurous, and monetarily endowed, there is a need for contrivance to give her that wealth. In Elissa’s Castle, Ellissa has worked hard for that wealth, and it’s taken time. That seems real to me, far more so than the fantastically successful Bright Young Thing protagonist.

In the third Transita novel I read, Emotional Geology, there is a sense of risk, both in the story, which drew a deep felt response from me, and the way the book is written. It’s adventurous, but it works, it works so well. Rose, the protagonist, may come over as wishy-washy at first, but she isn’t. She’s strong, fighting her past, herself and her future. She’s raised defences around herself, and will only let people in on her terms. Or so she thinks.

These three novels are so very different that Transita can’t be accused of formulaic storylines. Yet, somehow, these books complement each other. Each story seems to be part of a finely crafted, rounded attempt at redressing a gap on the bookshelf. And how these books fit; not only are the contents a good read, the books themselves have a tactile feel and thoughtful, beautiful covers. They won’t fall apart on first reading. These are books that fit well on the shelves.

Transita have hit on something that seems to have evaded the Bright Young Marketing Things. The over 45s are active, in and out of the sheets, paper or otherwise. We’re the ones who know where we’re going, what we like, how to get what we like. We know what we want. And, hey, we’re the ones who have learned how to read.

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