Roberta Writes – Book review: His Ladyship by Stevie Turner

What Amazon says

Norman Wicks is 57, overweight, and has diabetes. He is sick of his life. He has never left home, had a girlfriend, or held down any kind of job. The only friends he has are online, as he prefers to stay in the comfort zone of his bedroom. His devoted 92 year old mother Agnes waits on him hand and foot.

Norman has a secret he has kept hidden from the world for the majority of his life, but now he is desperate to bring it out into the open. He is terrified of how his family will react. However, for his own happiness and peace of mind, Norman must find a way to tell his mother and siblings exactly what they do not want to hear.

HIS LADYSHIP reached the finals and the Longlist of the 2021 Page Turner Awards.

My review

This book tackles the difficult topic of a person whose soul is trapped in the body of the wrong gender. There is a lot of controversy about which internal conflicts are gender related and which are sexuality related and I don’t feel qualified to comment on them as my upbringing was so conservative and ridged I only know a little about these topics. I can, however, comment on how this author’s characterization of Norman Wilkes, a man of 57 who has always identified as female, made me feel.

I felt terrible for Norman. He was born at a time when everything was black and white when it came to gender and his parents and siblings were conservative. There was no-one for him to talk to about his inner turmoil and confusion and so he withdrew from society, spending his life locked up his room.

Norman lives on unemployment from the government and only tries to get a job once. Because of his outwardly masculine appearance, he is sent to try out a job in a warehouse for which he is entirely unsuited. It ends in humiliation and catastrophe for Norman and is incredibly sad.

At the age of 57, when his mother is 93, Norman realises that time is running out for him and he needs to do something immediately if he wants to salvage what’s left of his life. He decides to out himself as a transgender man.

His mother and siblings reaction to his news is heartbreaking as they are initially unable to be kind or find any pleasant or supportive way of interacting with their brother. They actually are obstructive and make his life harder. Norman is determined though and goes ahead with his plans anyway which showed real strength of spirit and also desperation.

Norman is certainly not depicted as being a perfect person. In fact, he is selfish and self centred. His demanding behaviour towards his elderly mother is disgusting, but, as you progress with this novel and learn more about Norman, you start feeling more sorry for him than annoyed or judgmental. You discover the narrow-mindedness of his family and understand why he feels so trapped and unloved. No-one has ever tried to discover why Norman behaves the way he does, even his mother, despite her defense of his perceived “lazy” behaviour.

The changes to Norman’s personality and behaviour become more notable as the story unravels and you get a good insight into how much happier and kinder Norman could have been if there had been a little more understanding of his difficulties earlier in his life. It is impossible not to cheer Normal on as he starts down his new lifepath.

This book have a positive ending and is well researched and interesting.

Purchase His Ladyship

Amazon US

Amazon UK

82 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Book review: His Ladyship by Stevie Turner

  1. A great review. I also liked this book and how the gender issue was handled. Norman is a complex character and is well depicted. I have long said that there is usually a reason why people are anti-social. But up until recently no one ever tried to find out and just labelled them lazy or odd. Books like this might make people stop and think before judging.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. HI Priscilla, I don’t either, but reading this book was actually life changing for me. I felt so much understanding for Norman/Norma and how his whole life was influenced negatively by his situation. I also related to the mother who had to make this enormous change in her thinking about her child. It is real food for though.


  2. Terrific review, Robbie, of what sounds like a fascinating, important book by Stevie Turner. It’s a sobering subject with so much dramatic potential, as was also the case with great novels such as Jeffrey Eugenides’ “Middlesex” and Abigail Tarttelin’s “Golden Boy.”

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Hi Dave, I really enjoyed this book and it has opened my eyes to the emotional trauma of this situation for families. I can imagine it is not easy to understand a child you’ve raised as a male for 56 years suddenly wanting to be a girl. It is a huge mindset shift. I thought Norma’s family did very well and following all of their paths to change and acceptance was very interesting. Thanks for mentioning these other two books. I will look them up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I went through phases of only reading certain genres, but since coming across blogs like yours and Sally’s, I’ve read some excellent books that would have otherwise sailed under my radar. I’d not read poetry for several years but my love for that has been kindled, too, and I have Behind Closed Doors near the top of my TBR mountain.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Liz, Norman/Norma was a most intriguing character. He becomes very selfish and ‘I’ focused due to his misery and feelings of being a misfit in society. His character evolves and changes so much once he starts out on the path to self acceptance and changing his life. It is very gratifying to read.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Anything I say would be a conflict of interest, but I’d give it five stars just for Stevie’s well drawn fat guy in women’s undies and other uncomfortable scenes. The author also does an excellent job of staying the course and not falling off a the maudlin or soapboxing author-isms cliff. This is as agenda free a story of one man’s liberation as you’re likely to find.

    Liked by 7 people

      1. I was in the full spectrum entertainment biz for fifty years. Dancers, actors, artists, musicians, theater people… Norman might as well have been a lighting tech or choregrapher or art director I worked with one time or another. Here ya go – Hugh Nini – I loaned him PA gear, ran sound at all his Festival Ballet of North Texas productions, duped tapes, moved floors and set lights while my wife and daughter danced back in the 80s. He was the one who gave us our first Irish Setter in 86. He and my daughter still go back and forth on Facebook.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. HI Phil, I enjoy Stevie’s writing and she always tackles controversial and difficult topics. Her depiction of Norman and his family’s reaction to his initial steps to change his life were, I think, very realistic and that made it very sad. I was very pleased that things turned out well for Norma in the end and the details about the operations were very interesting.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes. I think her history with medical transcription aids in her ability to research and present that content for the rest of us. I’d get lost having to Google the medical names for body parts and translating the procedure terminology, much less bringing it down to “street” so it made sense to a broad audience.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Jacquie, this book was an eye opener for me and it really made me think about how difficult this situation is for the transgender person and for their family who have to undergo an enormous mindshift in order to support their child/sibling/grandchild.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Great review, Robbie. I think books such as this are so important because they help society become more educated about serious issues that people are going through.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Great review, Robbie, and Congrats to Stevie for writing about a controversial topic. I am always heartbroken when I hear of parents not supporting their children even coming out as gay. Although I can’t deny that a gender change would take a serious shifting of the mind. Still, people are people, all with hearts that can break when beaten down enough and souls that can crush just as easily. I was also raised conservatively, but have changed my stance just from growing older and becoming more educated. I’ve allowed my eyes to open and it’s made a big difference in how I see the world. Another great book! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. HI Lauren, what you have said is exactly how I feel. When my kids tell me off for not being understanding enough about modern things like this, I tell them it is hard to overturn your whole upbringing and belief system and adopt a new one. It take a bit of thinking and time. Of course, I did stop attending a conservative church a long time ago and adopted one that was very open minded. Then there was a huge uproar at the church because the two minsters were blessing gay marriages and the ensuring nastiness actually killed our minister. He died of a massive brain embolism caused by stress. It was a very disillusioning and awful time for me. Now, I keep my own peace and don’t attend formal worship structures.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That is so tragic about your minister, Robbie. Our pastor is gay and he is wonderful. Our church is completely accepting and inclusive. However, due to some other members that have soured our desire to attend anymore, we’ve stopped going and it’s been almost a year. We joined 15 years ago, so we also feel our time with organized religion may be ending. Like you, we keep our own peace now.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. This is an awesome review, Robbie. You gave me a real feel for the book, the issue it tackles, and how the person trapped with such an aching secret might feel. Our world, including the US, is still struggling with understanding and acceptance, and the results are heartbreaking. I’m glad the book ended on a positive note. Congrats to Stevie on what seems like a must-read. Thanks for sharing your review and recommendation. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

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