The Opal Octopus

Reading and reviews by the Indian Ocean

Quotes from Goddess by Kelly Gardiner


I haven’t finished it yet, but Goddess by Kelly Gardiner is an utter delight. It is a novelisation of the life of notorious queer swordswoman and opera singer Julie d’Aubigny/Mademoiselle de Maupin, told as a narration (I would say “confession”, but regrets seem to be few and far between!) on her deathbed.

Today I’d just like to share a couple of brief quotes that tickled my fancy:

He takes a few steps back and draws more slowly. ‘My dear, you really must learn to be more careful. You shouldn’t unsheathe a blade unless you know how to use it.’

Julie wonders if this will be the moment when she kills for the first time. It could be worth it. ‘You shouldn’t unsheathe words unless you’re willing to die for them.’

The truth of an orchestra is heard when they try to find their common notes before the show. All those strings and tubes and odd plunking things straining in different directions; an orchestra is merely a mob of single-minded maniacs who every so often condescend to work together, and then, mostly, they soar – they ascend – they give us wings.

Then they finish and bow and grumble and stomp off to their grotty little hovels muttering to themselves. Honestly, music is a miracle. You have no idea.

cover of Goddess - painted nude woman, turned to the side, arms over her breasts. she is looking straight at you

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