By: Linda Gould
Publisher: iUniverse LLC
Publication Date: October 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 14, 2015
Linda Gould resurrects the late ‘60s with a little bit of rock and roll and a whole lot of adventure in her novel Handmaidens of Rock.
It all started in the gymnasium of a suburban Maryland high school. The band Homegrown is on its upward trajectory and nothing will stop Preston, Neal, Brad and their three girls (Hope, Candy and Theda) from following them on their journey toward coveted stardom. Now that the band of merries (no pun intended) have achieved their first educational hurdle of high school, the stateside college scene isn’t near the exposure the band seeks in order to land the quintessential recording contract. Convinced they need to broaden their horizons (and avoid the draft), it’s time to cross the Atlantic and see what London has to offer.
The band decides to embrace opportunity and take a month-long study opportunity abroad. The groupies have no problem tagging along. Once underway, the life of aspiring rock stars and faithful groupies isn’t quite as glamorous as they once thought it would be. Fortunately band member and drummer, Neal, happens to have a cousin who lives in Scotland. How perfect he happens to own and operate a commune for those who truly are in search of the answers one seeks when finding oneself. ‘Swami’ appears to be the real deal when it comes to ‘peace, love and happiness’ until reality hits and the band has a lucid moment. Funds are running low and the fact that Swami’s Utopia is little more than a safe haven for draft dodgers certainly doesn't help. Friction becomes the operative to motivate Homegrown and its loyal groupies to go on the move once more. It’s time to head back to their native America, but not quite Maryland. The next stop is L.A. and their mission is a last ditch effort to make their legacy a reality. With big dreams complemented by sex and drugs, the only take away left is coveted rock and roll infamy.
Linda Gould delivers a grounded tale of what it must have been like to not only be a struggling musician in the ‘flower power’ era of the 60s, but to also be the groupie hanging onto the other end of the spectrum and chasing the dreams of rock star trail blazers. The dialogue isn’t too over the top ‘groovy’ and the situations are credible in that most of what I know (mostly read) about this particular period often has undertones of a perpetual cloud of weed and the insistent purpose of those who smoked it to pontificate righteousness. Gould does a credible job of establishing her six characters (3 guys and 3 gals) and creates a distinct persona for each while blending their natural connection as a whole.
Quill says: Handmaidens of Rock is a story that will appeal to those heroes of yesteryear who truly believed they would change the world with a whole lot of rock and roll and some sex and drugs to balance the blend.