Handmaidens of Rock
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (01/15)
“Handmaidens of Rock” by Linda Gould takes place during the turbulent 1960’s. The journey begins when a trio of high school aged musicians form the rock and roll group “Homegrown.” Three young ladies, who are drawn to both the band members and excitement of the groupie lifestyle, become “handmaidens” for the band. In this role, they try to take care of all of the musician’s needs. This can be emotionally exhausting because these young women also have feelings for the men and they find themselves having to deal with the rapidly growing egos of the players and their own personal development.
Taking off on an adventure to Europe is exciting for the whole group, but it also causes their college plans to be disrupted. Having opportunities to play in different venues is very exciting, yet the group also discovers that it can also be dangerous when you are dealing with easily excitable crowds, drugs and different political attitudes. They also have an opportunity to step into the real world of music and discover how difficult it can be to try to make it, especially when dealing with business people who do not have it all together. Taking a time out at a commune in Scotland gives the group a chance to delve deeper into themselves as individuals and as couples. Unfortunately, many of the valuable lessons learned don’t stick with many of them.
As the band continues to pursue fame and fortune, the handmaidens learn a lot of valuable life lessons. Trying to step into more feminist roles and have more responsibilities with performing with the band doesn’t always go over well. As they begin to realize that they need more from life than just being a handmaiden, their relationships with the men also change. While change can be good, sometimes it also can be heartrending. Their adventure presents them with an opportunity to grow and figure out who they really are.
Having been born into a conservative military family at the end of the 1960’s, I found myself enjoying life vicariously through the eyes of these ladies. This was a time when women were fighting to step out of the traditional roles that were usually cast for them, such as being housewives. Birth control was not perfected, so sometimes they were faced with making tough decisions about whether or not to abort. It was the time of Vietnam and there were some dangerous anti-war activities happening. In spite of all this, it was also a time to be able to take off on a great adventure and see the world. I found the characters to be very realistic and found myself checking the back of the book to see if it was really a fictional story. It felt much more like a memoir. Readers who either lived to enjoy the 60’s or are fascinated by the evolution of rock and roll will really enjoy “Handmaidens of Rock” by Linda Gould.