Late in the evening on July 20th, a cute, mostly well-behaved crowd of Chicagoans gathered inside Foursided, a colorful boutique filled with clever greeting cards, creatively scented candles, snarky nameplates, and wall hangings. On a typical Friday, Foursided would be closing its doors, but on this Friday a crowd slowly gathered around the big wooden
Late in the evening on July 20th, a cute, mostly well-behaved crowd of Chicagoans gathered inside Foursided, a colorful boutique filled with clever greeting cards, creatively scented candles, snarky nameplates, and wall hangings. On a typical Friday, Foursided would be closing its doors, but on this Friday a crowd slowly gathered around the big wooden table in the back of the shop. The crowd quickly focused its attention on a motley cast of characters that read a script adapted from My Lady’s Choosing, a choose-your-own-adventure romance novel by Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran.
Before penning their newest work for Quirk Books, Zageris and Curran were likely best known for their detective novel Taylor Swift: Girl Detective – The Secret of the Starbucks Lovers. However, I first met them at the 2016 Chicago Zine Fest, where I fell in love with their zine, How Ill is Your Repute, which I reviewed for WWAC, back in 2016. Post Zine Fest 2016, I immediately introduced Zageris and Curran’s work to my friends. The My Lady’s Choosing reading provided a perfect opportunity to indulge our love for reading fun, silly things aloud, while diving into the writers’ celebration and send-up of the romance genre.
Curran and Zageris recruited a full cast of friends from the theater, comedy, and film worlds in Chicago, and these performers introduced the audience to the protagonist and possible love interests found in My Lady’s Choosing. The audience itself didn’t stand in for the “plucky, penniless Regency-era London” lass, out to find a suitable partner and avoid spinsterhood, but we did get to make the occasional choice by shouting out our preference for a steamy lover over a brooding one, or vice versa.
When the night began, the plucky protagonist was stuck in her position as companion to the Lady Craven, a dragon of a woman who was not eager to attend a charity event for war orphans. Lady Craven’s ferocious roars of dissent had us in stitches immediately, but also had the Lady’s companion aching for some different company. Soon, we met a slew of delightful characters, including: Lady Evangeline, the gorgeous lesbian niece of the Lady Craven, who was eager to take us out of her service, one way or another; Sir Benedict Granville, a handsome and witty man unafraid to smash his face against ours; Captain Angus MacTaggart, a rugged Scottish soldier and immediate crowd-favorite; and Lord Garraway Craven, a brooding and intimidating man who one could also describe as … wolfish.
We’d all come to the reading searching for that telltale spark, but it quickly became clear that the real chemistry was amongst the readers. Both the audience and Captain MacTaggart’s cast members laughed and swooned over his impeccable Scottish accent and, no contest, chose to be swept away to his home on the moor … only to find ourselves elbow-deep in horse womb, helping him with an animal birth. Eventually, we were allowed to shout our desire for sex over intrigue and were rewarded with some incredible narration from Curran herself—“His kilt is on. His shirt is off.”—but were forced to try out a different lover before things got too steamy.
The performers fed off of each other’s energy and gave us one questionable but delightful accent after another as we met more characters, like, the dangerous but breathtakingly sexy Delphine, a Frenchwoman and ex/enemy of Lady Evangeline’s. They also playfully teased each other, turning stumbles and struggles to find correct page numbers into moments of hilarious banter and joy. Early into the reading my friend Cloie, a fan of How Ill is Your Repute who plans to have all her wedding party members do the quiz at her bridal shower, declared, “I want to be friends with every one of these people.”
The undeniably charming cast of readers didn’t quite steal the show from the book itself, which is clearly a masterpiece. My favorite lines from the night included mocking the way the adjectives “supple and pliant” are used in romance novels, “framed by a face made entirely of dramatic angles,” “manly” used over and over as a descriptor, and “dewy lowlands” serving as a euphemism for the protagonist’s excited nether region during her sexy encounter with Captain MacTaggart. That’s just a small taste of the delightful prose that awaits you in My Lady’s Choosing.
I cannot wait to crack open the copy of the book I rushed to buy as soon as the reading ended and fill in all the stories with which we were teased. Curran also provided illustrations for the novel, and a flip-through reveals the love with which she shaded the chest of the aforementioned shirtless Scotsman and the grizzled jaw of Fabien, the absurdly attractive Frenchman who kidnaps and ushers you to Lady Delphine.
Get your own copy from Amazon or Foursided, and instigate your own reading among friends! Because honestly, are you really friends with someone if you don’t know who they prefer: a sketchy but steamin’ hot Lady Lesbian, or an honest but farm-loving shirtless Scotsman?