Taking My Life
by Jane Rule
Talon Books. 280 pages, $19.95
BORN IN AN ERA when lesbianism was considered deviant and unmentionable, Jane Rule grew up to write books in which same-sex love was portrayed as sane, nurturing, and entirely normal. How she came to question and subvert the dominant culture as she eventually did is the subject of Taking My Life, a memoir that covers the first 21 years of Rule’s life. Discovered among her archived papers after her 2007 death, the memoir has been brought to print by scholar Linda Morra.
Jane Rule was born in New Jersey in 1931, but moved to Canada in 1956 and thereafter identified as a Canadian writer. Her 1964 first novel, Desert of the Heart, which is about two women who fall in love in Reno, Nevada, in the 1950’s, was made into the groundbreaking cult classic film Desert Hearts in 1985. It remains the most popular lesbian movie of all time. Rule enjoyed a long and successful career both writing and teaching, and she received many awards. She also enjoyed an enduring relationship with Helen Sonthoff, whom she met when both were faculty members at a private school in Massachusetts in the 1950’s. They lived together until Rule’s demise.