Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Crowning Glory by Carollyn Faith Olson

Crowning Glory was just an absolutely lovely story, well-told, and very easy to appreciate. It’s a little predictable in parts, but that’s okay, because it’s a fantasy tale and it goes precisely where we hope it will. Similarly, Erin’s transformation is far easier than any of us could realistically expect, even given her past history, but (once again) this is a fantasy, and we want see her so easily accepted.

In fact, Carollyn Faith Olson deserves credit for adhering to the fantasy so closely, without crossing the line of plausibility.

Aaron (Erin) hasn’t presented en-femme since his college days, when a modelling gig saw him tutored in the fine arts of female impersonation. Although he enjoyed it, and was very successful at it, being Erin was never something he had a burning desire to pursue on a regular basis. When his wife discovers photos of those modelling days, she’s understandably upset, but she gets over it quickly. In fact, not only does she come to terms with his past, but she begins making plans for him to revisit it.

As it so happens, Erin’s re-emergence into the world couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, with Aaron’s advertising firm on the verge of landing a huge new client. Their competition is another all-male team, whose size and experience gives them an edge, so when the client lets it slip that a female presenter “might really shake things up” . . . well, a golden opportunity presents itself.

While this is a fantasy – a fairy tale, in fact – it’s also story grounded in Carollyn’s own experiences. She clearly appreciates the emotional and physical appeal of passing en-femme, just as she understands that real life requires a certain amount of tact. The ways in which Erin is tested, familiarized, and introduced into the world of Aaron’s friends and business partners is simple, yet quite clever as well.

The way in which Carollyn structures the tale it part of its charm. She begins with the end, assuring us right from the start of a happily-ever-after, and steps back to show us how Erin’s re-emergence and Aaron’s career aspirations converge. Despite the simplicity of the tale, there’s no clich├ęd leap from one to the other, and no flash of inspiration that demands the two should ever meet. Bringing Erin into Aaron’s business is a carefully considered, carefully calculated move that certainly allows for enjoying the best of both worlds, but doesn’t strain the story’s credibility.

Reviewed by Sally

As originally published in Frock

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