Glamorous Mary Frazier Armstrong--definitely on the "A" list, with a pedigree stretching back to 1640--has run a successful art gallery in Charlottesville, Va., since leaving Sotheby's some years ago. When medicos tell her she's got only days to live, she fires off a batch of letters telling relatives and friends she's gay. But before they can reach their destinations, she learns she's been--oops!--misdiagnosed. When the missives land, the southern manners and graces of a cast of deliciously drawn characters splatter, and only wise, widowed Aunt Ru and gallery employee Mandy stand by Frazier (as she's familiarly called). The climax of Frazier's self-outing comes at the Dogwood Festival. While her mother plays social martyr and her ne'er-do-well brother shows up with his socially unacceptable fiancee, she has a contretemps with her closeted, "born-again heterosexual" ex-girlfriend, who's parading her latest beau-for-show. The confrontation sets off comic fireworks that have the politer country-clubbers diving for cover under the boxwoods and azaleas. The last six chapters dissolve into fantasy as Frazier, changing an electrical fixture, gets zapped onto Mt. Olympus. This is Brown at her comic best, chipping away at stereotypes, social artifice, and dishonesty. If--tinged by her 1970s radical pamphleteering pedantry--"Venus Envy" isn't her finest book, it's still a fun read.
"Frothy fun from the queen of southern sexual farce."
"Hilarious and touching."
"From tear-jerking hilarity to Kleenex-level sadness."
Daily News, New York
"Witty and tender."
Los Angeles Times Book Review