Publisher: Blue Feather Books
Bailey Hampton and Chelsea Parker destroyed a relationship because they put their careers first. Those careers bring them back together when each wants to interview Eleanor Burnett, the "longtime companion" of the recently deceased movie star Daphne DeMonet. Bailey and Chelsea each believes she is going to be collecting information for a book, but they are about to receive a lesson for living. As the three women read daily from Eleanor's diaries, it becomes clear that there are comparisons between the two different relationships. Eleanor reaches out in a touching manner to the younger women to give them an opportunity to realign their priorities and find a chance for a happier life together. The point of studying the past is to correct the future. The question is whether Bailey and Chelsea will be able to learn that in time.
This is Paynter's fourth book and undoubtedly her best so far. It shows the maturity that is developing in her writing and her ability to tell a story that is intricate, but deceptively simple. When the book opens it appears to be another version of the girls lost/girls found formula, but it quickly turns into something else. First, it presents a poignant history of what life was like for gay and lesbian actors in Hollywood during the 1950s. Even McCarthyism makes an appearance. A reader can't help but think of the lives of people like Rock Hudson and what they went through. Eleanor and Daphne's story, as they duck, weave and deceive their ways through the political and social climates of the time, is interesting enough to sell the book. The bonus is in watching what happens to Bailey and Chelsea as they become invested in Eleanor and the story. There is a gentle lesson that unfolds as they come to realize that relationships take work and that there are greater priorities than careers and always getting things the way you want them.
Survived By Her Longtime Companion is one of those books that draws you slowly into the story and causes you to care about the characters. The reader will probably find herself wishing that these were real people, people that she could get to know. If nothing else, the story is very appealing and certainly worth the time to read it. It also is the type of book that will encourage the reader to want to read Paynter's next publication.