| Books : THE WOMAN IN BEIGE - 2003
‘The woman looked down her elegant nose at Lorna
and Lorna felt the full impact of tanned face, cold green
eyes and a weight of beige. As Lorna said to her friend
Pat a week later, ‘Time stopped for me, Pat. I’d
never liked beige before but this woman looked fantastic
This was to be her first sighting of the mysterious woman
in beige, carrying an equally mysterious pet carrier on
the Brighton/London train. At Clapham Junction the woman
alights and disappears into the crowd on the platform.
Lorna was returning from visiting her grandmother’s
old friends Edna and Lily who live in a cramped flat in
Brighton. They had recently been burgled by a woman posing
as a double glazing sales person. Strange personal items
had been stolen including the kettle and electric blanket
- Lorna discovers that also their savings are missing.
Up until then Lorna Tree’s first thirty eight years
had been fairly uneventful. She’d lived all her life
in the same North London house with her brother David, initially
brought up by their grandmother because glamorous parents
George and Della just weren’t ‘kiddy people’.
Seduced at eighteen by her driving instructress, there’d
been a few low key affairs while Lorna waited for a grand
passion to materialize, ‘We Trees are like swans -
we mate for life.’ She’d shared a deep and meaningful
friendship with Kate that from time to time found them in
bed together, a passing interest in women like snobbish
yet vivacious Theresa Stowell Parker and spent years and
years cheerfully chatting to her brother David’s aspirational
wife Julie, the neighbours Reverend Joseph and the E Family
Robinson, and oldest friend Pat. Suddenly, all change when
Dan, the woman in beige enters her life.
’Wouldn’t you agree that Dan is a fine name?
Another sighting with the pet carrier, getting out of a
navy blue Mercedes. ’Dan - possible celebrity vet,
probable caring lover, possible...hoodlum?’
Then again, in a pub - playing pool brilliantly as only
someone with a name like Dan could. She’s coming closer
until at last there she is in Duxford Road, standing outside
Jenny Salter, Lorna’s therapist is the only person
she can talk to about Dan, telling her, ‘Dan is like
a wild sea and I’m trying to make the sea behave like
a swimming pool, only I love the sea and would hate the
responsibility of a swimming pool’
Does Dan return her love’ And the disturbed yet still
vivacious Theresa who seems determined to wreck the relationship.
And George and Della with their plans of moving in and replacing
David’s countless concealed halogen spotlights with
chandeliers. How can she keep her sense of humour? How can
she put up with their taste in furniture and fittings?
The Woman in Beige by V.G. Lee review in Time Out
" Lorna Tree is an unprepossessing heroine with her obsessive-compulsive
traits (documenting public transport upholstery in her
notebook) and downright unbalanced behaviour (documenting
public transport upholstery) but V.G. Lee's likeable
style means that we warm to her as Lorna's childhood is
revealed to have been beset by parents who fucked her up
Set in a Stoke Newington that is almost suburban,
the background to the story is the usual merry-go round
of the incestuous nature of lesbian relationships but,
in a cunning plot twist, Lorna falls for the mysterious
charismatic 'woman in beige' and falls into a surreal world
of bizarre crime before she finally falls out of it again
and into reality. I won't say back to reality because that
would be misleading.
Old-fashioned in that knowing charity
shop-find way, Lee's writing is nevertheless always entertaining
and often incisive, especially when dealing firmly with
bitter-sweet basic human frailties and counsellors in paisley
The Woman in Beige by V.G. Lee review in The Big Issue
This is a touching tale of Lorna Tree, 38, seduced by a
mysterious 'woman in beige' after a brief encounter on
a train. At first Lorna's unpredictable, off-kilter personality
makes her an unlikely heroine. However as her difficult
past is revealed and her character fully develops her adventures
become more engaging. Lorna narrates her own story, thus
creating a diary-style novel. The plot however, has many
unexpected intricacies. V.G. Lee has succeeded in creating
an amusing, dramatic lesbian romance and an entertaining
The Big Issue
An amusing dramatic lesbian romance and an entertaining
A gentle funny lesbian novel with a heroinne I'd love
to read about again.
Charlotte Cooper, Rainbow Network
In the same vein as Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood albeit
in tone, V.G. Lee has produced an excellent cast of really rather weird characters
who make you cringe, laugh and quake.
Ingo, Gays the Word Bookshop
V.G. Lee's talnet is that she writes about the little
things in life like nobody else
Anne Beech, N16 Magazine
Lady in Beige I adore you.
Click here to read an extract.