Martha Moody

Susan Stinson  - published December 2020

December 1, 2020 · trade paper · 288 pages · $17 · 9781618731807 | ebook · 9781618731814

New: 11 Questions with Susan Stinson

Read the first chapter.

Susan Stinson in the Kenyon Review On Books and Their Harbors

Lambda Literary: A Conversation Between Susan Stinson & Sally Bellerose

At once, an unexpected love story and a lush comic masterpiece, Martha Moody is a speculative western embracing the ordinary and gritty details — as well as the magic — of women’s lives in the old west.

Alison Bechdel spotlighted the first line of Martha Moody in an interview with Elle:

This “speculative western” first came out in 1995 but was just reissued. The first sentence is magnificent in the way it’s a microcosm of the whole book, as well as a glimpse at the way Stinson writes so beautifully about fat bodies: “I was crouched next to the creek baiting my hook with a hunk of fat when I heard a rustling on the bank upstream.”


“Susan Stinson’s substantial and delicious historical novel, Martha Moody, has been reissued by Small Beer Press, and it is certainly cause for celebration. . . . Stinson has invented substantial woman heroes who have agency and imaginations and she’s placed them into a historical novel in ways we had not seen before. . . . But the tale of Martha Moody is just part of this novel’s pleasure. Stinson’s language is joyful and buoyant. Her frame of reference includes liberal doses of Shakespeare, the bible, and Zane Grey, all of which make the novel such a complex and wonderful gift. Read and enjoy— preferably with a cup of tea and a luxuriously buttered biscuit nearby!”
— Judith Katz, Lambda Literary

“Susan Stinson’s Martha Moody is an exuberant, cheeky Western in which sensual hunger steers an offbeat homesteader toward freedom. Stuck in a dull marriage, Amanda is a Bible reader with an overactive imagination. She’s closest to Clara, her gossipy neighbor, and spins yarns for Miss Alice, her bovine companion. When a temperance riot gets out of hand, Amanda seeks refuge with Martha Moody, the hefty, red-headed owner of the town’s general store. Under the guise of selling butter, Amanda agrees to their trysts, all while writing racy stories about Martha and the angel Azrael, a winged cow. When Amanda’s husband discovers her writing, it leads to violence. . . . With its down-to-earth portrait of a woman finding her voice, Martha Moody is an entertaining lesbian fantasy.”
— Karen Rigby, Foreword Reviews

“One of Stinson’s triumphs is to make Amanda’s fairy-tale success as a writer seem completely plausible amid the vivid depiction of the grime and hard work of her life as first a farmer’s wife, then a single woman struggling to survive on the small homestead.”
— Margot Livesey, Scotland On Sunday

“A tale of longing and self identification and reconciliation. Amanda Linger pines for shop owner Martha Moody whose girth, sensuous folds of flesh and loving caresses pull Amanda out of the stasis of a loveless marriage…MARTHA MOODY is a tender exquisitely rendered story with strong characters, a sense of love and magic surrounding them, and one incredible cow.”
Icon Magazine, Toronto

“Susan Stinson’s deceptively svelte-seeming story is a lush comic masterpiece: a totally convincing celebration of the combined erotic power of untrammelled female flesh, forbidden sex and unleashed words.”
Mail on Sunday, London

“Martha Moody, is a rich and complicated novel, nearly edible in its sensuous physicality.”

“Stinson’s follow-up to the utterly fantastic Fat Girl Dances with Rocks is so bloody good it made me want to run naked through a meadow.”
Time Out, London

“Here we have a story of love spurned, uncommonly well told, in language that is rich and strange, erotic and fanciful. Set against the backdrop of Western frontier life, it’s a powerful tale of seeming betrayal, and the value of friendships between women. The best book yet from The Women’s Press.”
Gay Times, London

“Stinson’s celebration of the love and friendship of women deserves a larger audience than one made up of only lesbian feminists.”

“Remarkable story . . . Amanda’s fictional Martha is a wild and magical creature who churns clouds into butter with her magnificent thighs and flies on the back of a fabulous winged cow.”
Bay Area Reporter

“Susan Stinson writes as though she means every word to be tasted, savoured.”
Women’s Library Newsletter

“A jewel . . . Martha Moody is magnificent. She is unashamedly fat and she is beautiful, dignified and desirable. She will take her place in modern literature as a truly marvellous role model for large women. Never before have I encountered the large body depicted with such beauty.”
— Shelley Bovey, Yes Magazine, UK

Cover art by Theo Black.
Martha Moody was originally published by Spinster’s Ink.


Online Launch Event:
December 3, 7 p.m. EST with Elizabeth McCracken, author of Bowlaway
Book Moon, 86 Cottage St., Easthampton, MA 01027

About the Author

Susan Stinson ( is the author of four novels, including Spider in a Tree and Martha Moody, and a collection of poetry and lyric essays. Her work has appeared in The Public Humanist, The Kenyon Review, The Seneca Review, Curve, Lambda Literary Review, and The Women’s Review of Books. She has taught at Amherst College, been awarded the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize, and has received a number of fellowships. An editor and writing coach, she was born in Texas, raised in Colorado, and now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.