Book cover of Dolly Dingle, Lesbian Landlady By Monica NolanAs the out innkeeper of a boardinghouse inhabited by inverts, Dolly Dingle is determined to bring the abode up to code and serve as gal pal and confidante to the lesidents. Er, residents.

Forget Kriss Kringle ― this holiday season belongs to Miss Dingle.

When her housemother sustains a hip fracture, Dolly Dingle, an aimless but amiable actress, is assigned the role of the acting landlady. As the out innkeeper of the Magdalena Arms, a boardinghouse inhabited by inverts of the Sapphic sort, Dolly is determined to mistletoe the line, bringing the abode up to code and serving as gal pal and confidante to the lesidents. Er, residents.

Looking after ― and sometimes over ― this scintillating syndicate, which includes a nursing student, a schoolteacher, a statistician, a vagabond, and a clarinetist, the industrious Miss Dingle is no man’s landlady. But there’s no need to deck the halls with bows of Dolly. It’s not her ego that needs stroking.

Lesbianism: it’s a wonderful lifestyle ― unless you’re waist-deep in the well of loneliness.

If that isn’t enough to stem the yuletide cheer, then an untrustworthy trustee bent on boarding up the boardinghouse in favour of more lucrative lodging, certainly is.

Dolly feels queer, and not in a good way. Prepared to square the circle, she’s instead ensnared in a love triangle that involves a new tenant and an old friend. The lovelorn landlady can’t believe her luck, but with the preoccupied occupants in one another’s arms, will the Magdalena Arms crumble like a gingerbread house?

Alliterative author Monica Nolan, purveyor of prodigiously preserved and rightfully rehabilitated lesbian pulp fiction, reminds us why it’s important to read for pleasure. She proves that you can, in fact, take the odd girl out of her misery, and vice versa. Dispensing with the tacky tragedy and despairing degenerates that populated pulp in its gayday ― er, heyday ― Nolan has created a droll story of layered, loveable lesbians who are up a tree. At the top of this tree is the star: a leading landlady who glitters like tinsel sparkles like an ornament and is the epitome of bonhomie.

In a chestnut shell: Dingle all the way.

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