Tempus Fugit
by Mavis Applewater


Blue Feather Books, Ltd., 2008. ISBN 978-0-9794120-4.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg
Posted on 01/13/2009

Fiction: Romance

Think Happy Days, Grease, James Dean, Rock Hudson/Doris Day, Elvis—all the oldies but goodies, but with a heaping dose of reality and world events thrown in for good measure (book banning, the Sputnik space race, Vietnam war, hippies, etc.) Then add a dash of Ruby Fruit Jungle and The Swashbuckler, and you have Mavis Applewater's blast from the past, Tempus Fugit.

It's the summer of 1956. The last thing high school student Ellen Druette needs is to fall for a fellow cheerleader. If anyone finds out she's into girls, life as the cool chick knows is over. Being labeled a perv, a homo, or a queer is bad enough, but Ellen worries more about the risk of losing her parents' love and respect.

Laurie and Ginny Swenson are the new kids at school and drive into town in twin convertibles. They may be identical twins on the outside, but they are as different as night and day on the inside. One could say Laurie is the evil twin and Ginny is a total sweetheart, yet everyone agrees the Swenson girls are tall, blonde, gorgeous, bright, rich, and stacked. Most of the girls in town hate them, and the boys trip over themselves trying to get close to them. Ellen wonders why the boys she dates don't make her insides turn to mush; then Ginny provides the answer.

When Ginny is wrongfully incarcerated for soliciting a prostitute and engaging in lewd acts with an underage girl, the law and her parents are against her. Ginny suffers a horrific injustice. Not only does the crime not warrant the punishment, but she hasn't even committed the crime.

Can Ginny be saved from a prejudiced society that shuns ex-convicts, gays, and other "social deviants?" Can she be saved from herself? Will Ellen and Ginny finally realize where they belong?

The 400-plus page book held my attention with the hope that justice would ultimately be served. Although I enjoyed the banter and the multi-layered subplots, I grew as impatient as Ellen's parents and friends for Ellen and Ginny to get a clue and go for broke. The novel could have been trimmed a bit, but Applewater's winning writing style, wit, and honesty made the length forgivable.

Mavis Applewater does a commendable job of taking readers on the torturous journey shared by two lovers and making our only wish be that the lovers live happily ever after. Ellen and Ginny's tender romance is almost destroyed by a force far beyond the young girls' control. It was—and continues to be—bigger than the simple fact of love between two humans.

The adage tells us "time flies when you're having fun." For me, Tempus Fugit truly flew, and my time was well spent.

A portion of the royalties earned from the sale of this book are being donated to the Human Rights Campaign.


Mavis Applewater was born and raised just outside of Boston. Tempus Fugit is her third novel. She has also published four collections of short stories, including the 2007 Goldie Finalist Home for the Holidays. Visit her website.

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