It would be hard to imagine parents more perfect than Claire and Theo. In a rambling apartment overlooking Central Park West, they raise their son Willy with enthusiasm, encouragement, and what might now be called unconditional love. It might also be called unconventional love, for Claire and Theo are both women; they are Willy's mothers. As a young boy, Willy knows only the warm, supportive, slightly offbeat world of Claire, a respected photographer, and Theo, a successful caterer. Together they fill Willy's life with laughter, fun, and an extended circle of friends and relatives. Sunday dinners at Theo's table are legendary, trips to Uncle Peter's Long Island farm are any boy's delight, and visits to Uncle Baxter and Aunt Jessica's Greenwich Village brownstone are an exotic adventure. But Willy soon learns of another world, one in which his mothers are viewed with hatred and mistrust. When that world intrudes and forces Claire and Theo to reexamine their lives and their relationship, Willy is the only person who can prove to them and to the courts that "normal" is in the eye of the beholder, and that life with his mothers is the best life a boy could have.
At a time when family values are being debated and defined, Lowell's novel puts human faces on a loving, nurturing, and unconventional--that is, homosexual--family. Claire is a successful fine arts photographer from a background of wealth and privilege in the East. Theo is a successful caterer, transplanted from the southwestern trailer park in which she was raised. Together, the two lovers are Willy's mothers during the 1960s and 1970s, when even their beloved, cosmopolitan New York City--let alone Claire's conservative, disapproving family--did not exactly welcome lesbian parenting. Lowell tells the story of this warmly loving family from the adult Willy's vantage as he eyes his own twin daughters with adoration and recounts his mothers' initial meeting and subsequent lives, which are eventually threatened by a society dancing to tunes proclaiming, ironically enough, that "love is all you need." Beautifully written, this novel deserves to find its way into mainstream as well as gay-lesbian specialty collections.