Lesbian fantasy meets lesbian nightmare: nuns!! Not a bad description of Z. Egloff’s Verge. Sure, it’s the story of Claire McMinn, barely sober Don Juanita, promising young filmmaker, but mostly it’s the story of resistance and surrender. Claire struggles to resist the lure of Sister Hilary at the neighborhood community center, but from their first encounter readers have to wonder how long before surrender. How might that surrender manifest itself and what could it possibly accomplish? Could telling a nun how you feel ever result in a happy ending?
Claire has already slept with her film professor’s wife, ruining her chances of making it in film. What might be the consequence of stealing a “bride of Christ?” What might she ruin by taking that step? What kind of future could they ever share?
As the two women get to know each other, the nature of the baggage each brings to the present is slowly revealed and it seems that with each revelation the pull gets stronger, but the likelihood of any kind of “happy ending” together or apart becomes more remote.
Verge is a bit of a slow starter, kind of a whine-fest with Claire bouncing between her best friend and on-again, off-again lover, Shelly, and her desire for Claire. But the book picks up pace somewhere close to the middle once Claire comes out to Sister Hilary. Sister Hilary’s response isn’t exactly what Claire expects. “No,” she tells Claire, “I didn’t know…But its not a problem.” Sister Hilary turns away, retreating until she finally breaks the silence by throwing open the car door and running into her house. Claire’s confusion is palpable: “Sister Hilary is many things, but horrified is not one of them,” we are told. “She is—like Claire, like Claire has been from the beginning—attracted.”
Claire can feel it and she knows it in her gut, but doesn’t know where to go with it. Is there anywhere to go with it? It is not until the two speak again—after Sister Hilary regroups and, Claire suspects, prepares to act like that moment of clarity never happened—that Claire gets confirmation: “The other night, in the car,” Sister Hilary explains, “I always wondered how it would feel to be with another person without any barriers and there it was and I couldn’t stand it.”
Once the proverbial cat is out of the bag, Verge rapidly barrels toward its conclusion, sweeping the reader up in the whirlwind. Resistance and surrender. Claire and Hilary both wrestle to keep the two in balance. And the outcome isn’t remotely what readers will expect!