Camille Kellogg’s upcoming debut adult rom-com, “Just As You Are,” is a sapphic “Pride and Prejudice” retelling that will be published next year by Penguin Random House. Liz Baker dreams of being a novelist and telling the kinds of queer stories she never had growing up, but due to her current job as a columnist at queer magazine The Nether Fields, she barely has time to write outside of work. And just as the magazine is about to shut down for good — which would secure Liz the opportunity to work on her novel for the first time — it gets bought by two wealthy women. The two investors are Bailey Cox and Daria Fitzgerald, the latter of whom is an attractive butch lesbian. Only, when Liz meets them, she discovers that Daria is not only determined to cut costs but also hates Liz and her “fluff articles.” But the more Liz and Daria’s paths begin to cross, Liz discovers another side of Daria, one that’s much softer than she expected. And rather than hating Daria, Liz finds herself falling for her.
Kellogg writes an intimate, witty portrayal of queer life in the novel, one in which every character of the cast shines in their own right. And the exploration of queerness alongside gender presentation was remarkable; Liz’s struggle with how she wants to present herself to the world, finding herself most often in the space between butch and femme rather than clearly one or the other, is an experience many queer readers will relate to. At its heart “Just As You Are” is a book about everyday queer life and lets queer readers know that a happy ending exists for them, even if they’re imperfect and unsure of themselves.
Daria and Liz’s romance was written beautifully, full of yearning and misunderstandings but a testament to this idea of love as something that doesn’t have to be earned and can instead be the result of someone seeing every part of you and finding that it’s enough. Despite the struggles both women have with their queerness, it ultimately is something that enriches their lives, and they’re able to find happiness because of it. As a lesbian who adores Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” this novel felt like home and as if it were a promise of all the things to come in my own future. The novel is currently available for pre-order.