‘Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher’ by Monica Nolan
Author: Jenny Block
November 8, 2010
Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher is a clever throwback to the pulp novels of the 50’s. Taken at face value, it would be preposterous—but reading it as the satire it is, Bobby Blanchard is a quick, fun read, ideal for subway, summer, or simply salacious reading.
The story centers on Bobby Blanchard, a once celebrated field hockey player, who was cut down in her prime by injury. Because professional field hockey is no longer in the cards for her, Bobby decides to teach at an all-girls boarding school.
You can already imagine how this will play out—and, if you can’t, shame on you.
The all-girls boarding school—the classic hotbed of young girl-on-girl action; the perfect backdrop for what turns out to be a mystery novel à la naughty Nancy Drew.
The math mistress has plummeted to her death. Was it an accident or was it foul play? Did she jump or is there something sinister afoot?
Bobby is hired to be the Games Mistress but quickly decides she needs to do more than teach gym. She needs to resurrect the school’s once celebrated hockey team.
She has no trouble recruiting players. The students love her. Really love her. And that, my friends, is where the raucous, albeit predictable, fun begins.
After try-outs, a team is formed and begins practicing. Meanwhile, the drama of the dead math mistress begins to unfold and we begin to meet all of the players.
The headmistress who seems to be going mad; the art mistress who is more interested in Bobby’s form than her husband’s; the seemingly benign housekeeper who you can tell from the start is up to something; the new math mistress who seems to despise Bobby.
But you know what they say…it’s a thin line between love and hate.
And students Carole and Angela–one of whom is interested in Bobby as more than a coach…
The book has fewer steamy scenes than I would have expected (and liked); they were far less detailed then I would have imagined. I admit, it left this reader wanting at least a tiny bit more. But Nolan does an excellent job of capturing the lustiness of young women discovering their sexuality and an equally good job of portraying the desire born when hate meets heat.
I won’t ruin the ending for you, but let’s just say that you can bet your gut on this one.
Yes, Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher is formulaic—but what keeps it from the bargain bin is the clever writing even within the prescribed form and the relatable characters, who are one part contrived but still one part believable.
That is what keeps the reader engaged. It’s not that you don’t already know what’s going to happen—it’s just that you actually begin to care.
It takes a certain type of reader to take on this book. Without tongue firmly planted in cheek, this book is a bomb. (And, no, I don’t mean da bomb.) But with the right attitude, this book is the kind of pleasure read that few are these days.
Too many books are too over the top or too clichéd or too serious. But Nolan manages to remain true to the genre without eschewing all of the rules of good writing.
Nolan is also the author of Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary and the co-author of the Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, both of which are written in the same genre as Bobby Blanchard. All three books have a kitsch factor that cannot be ignored. They are easy and fun to read, but great literature they are not.
From the title to the tidy ending and from the cover to the parade of predictable characters and scenes, Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher is the perfect homage to an era of fiction long gone by.