Do you remember your young, innocent days when you learned about “the birds and the bees” and couldn’t conceive of your parents ever having done anything like “that?” That was just too gross! It was something a kid could not consider…or even think about.
I suppose we all wanted our parents to be Saints, far removed from lesser mortals…
And heaven forbid that our grandparents ever “did it,” as we called the act in those days.
Well, this is the problem faced by Peter Leroy, the narrator of this witty, heartwarming book, when he learns that his beloved grandparents were in the “coarse goods” trade. On the day of his Gumma’s funeral, three years following the death of his Guppa, he learns about it from her best friend, May Castle.
He is stunned when May gives him a box filled with erotic jewelry; it’s all Peter can do to get through the funeral where he has to speak. He has his own image of his typical, down-to-earth grandparents and he treasures those `50s memories. In his own words from the book: “To learn that my grandparents had played a leading role in the development of erotic jewelry in their time was much too much to handle at one time.”
Another thing that bothers Peter is that he’s the last to learn about it. This sets the course of this book as Peter sets out to learn everything he can about their lives and get to the truth of the matter.
What adds to the hilarity of Herb ‘n’ Lorna–set during the period prior to World War I–is that Lorna keeps her artistry in carving the erotic figures from her husband Herb, and Herb keeps his secret from her. Herb constructs and designs the mechanisms that animate the erotic, intertwined figures carved by Lorna. The subterfuge that each undertakes to keep their secrets is hilarious.
And you’ll never believe what happens on the night Herb and Lorna finally decide to confess. (Yes, both were ashamed of their secret life, even while each delighted in their individual skills. This was a more Puritanical time, after all…)
I won’t reveal more of the plot, but believe me when I say that Peter Leroy uncovers their entire story, relating it with grace, dignity and gut-busting, bawdy humor.
This is much more than a romantic comedy; it’s a masterpiece of literature, depicting the great love Herb and Lorna share throughout their lifetime. Peter does such a thorough job uncovering his Gumma and Guppa’s lives that I think of this as two superb character studies.
I agree with The Washington Post review on the front cover: “Herb ‘n’ Lorna is the happiest of books–not to mention the sexiest…The kind of sweetness and passion and laughter Kraft draws from these ordinary lives is rare and enduring.”
Accolades to the author, Eric Kraft, for bringing readers hours of fun and excitement as we enter the lives of Herb ‘n’ Lorna.
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, July 30, 2010
Author of “Dream Reachers” (with Chase Von) and other books