For years a "lost" collector's item, here is the second novel from a brilliant young author testing her literary muscle, and it's bursting at the seams with Rita Mae Brown's trademark cast of characters and crackling quips. Written immediately after her classic Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day takes a loving swipe at the charged political atmosphere of Greenwich Village in the early seventies. Elegant art history professor Carole Hanratty insists brains transcend lust--until she crashes into Ilse, a revolutionary feminist flush with the arrogance of youth. Blazing with rhetoric, their romance is a sexual and ideological inferno. Ilse campaigns to get Carole to join The Movement, but forty-four-year-old Carole and her zany peers have twenty years of fight behind them and are wary of causes bogged down in talk. After all, says Carole's best friend, the real reason for a revolution is so the good things in life circulate. Her idea of subversion is hiring a Rolls-Royce to go to McDonald's. In Her Day, with its infectious merriment and serious underpinnings, proves that if politics is the great divider, humor is the ultimate restorative.
The same goes for Carole, and the two find themselves throwing caution to the wind and flinging themselves head on into a volatile relationship. Much of that volatility is due to their differences concerning the women's movement. Ilse believes that change can only come with action, thinking about what the future will hold, while Carole steadfastly tries to teach Ilse that you can't ignore the past, that the same arguments Ilse and her young group are fighting for are the same ideals from 50, 100 200 years ago. Carole and Ilse continue to butt heads over the movement, finally bringing them to a difficult decision.
Rita Mae Brown's "In Her Day" is a good book when it comes to dealing with the relationship of Carole and Ilse in terms of the age discrepancy. The two handle any disparaging attitudes very easily, though not many appear in the novel. And they do have great sex. My only issue stems from their arguments about the women's movement which don't come across as arguments but rather as long expository statements without much feeling behind them. I felt that even as characters in a novel, they were simply regurgitating from a script so I never felt that their arguments were as bad as they were meant to appear. But they do offer quite a bit of information on the differing views regarding the treatment of women in the early 1970s.