Books 1/28/05

I’m still reading the Marion Davies biography and really enjoying it. I find that it takes me longer to read non-fiction than fiction, and even longer to read biographies than non-biography non-fiction, so it feels like it’s taking me a long time to finish. In the middle of it I took some hours off and read Away with the Faries by Kerry Greenwood, and I think it’s the best of her Phryne Fisher series so far. I have no idea what number it is in the series, since they’re being reprinted here in the US, but I’m almost positive it comes before one of the others I’ve read.

(To those of you who may be worried about my blossoming addiction to mysteries set in the 1920s: I’m well aware I have a problem, which is the first step to recovery. Please be comforted in the knowledge that I’m making progress, and please look the other way while I hang out on this first step for a while.)

Away with the Fairies centers around the death of Miss Lavender, a too-precious-to-be-true author of fairy stories for children. Of course things aren’t as they seem, and everyone that lives around Miss Lavender has a reason to kill her, and thats where our dear Miss Fisher comes in.

I say this is the best of the series so far, (well, of the 3 I’ve read), and I mean it. In my mind there are two kinds of mystery novels. The first is the kind where you have enough clues at the beginning to figure it out by the end, so when the detective says: “There’s a piece of green fabric here caught in this door”, you think “Wait, wasn’t Betty wearing a green coat in that first scene?”. The second is the kind that parcels out the clues as you go, so that there’s no way for you to know whats going on until the end, like when they find a cowboy hat at the scene and you don’t find out until the very end that Lou was actually a cowboy and that’s the only thing that links him to the murder. Both are nice, but I like the kind I have a chance of solving early, because they make me feel smart. The other Phryne Fisher books fell solidly in the second category, but this one was complex and open enough from the beginning that you had a chance to figure out what was going on.

The mystery was good, and it also covered quite a bit of territory in regards to the burgeoning feminism of the 1920s. The novel contains a great explanation of the damage gossip rags and trashy magazines can do to women’s sense of self and womanhood, which I really appreciated. And I so wish that the Adventuresses Club actually existed and that I was a member!

One additional thought before I get back to the life of Miss Marion. While reading forums where people break down their reading for the year, a number included graphic novels in their totals. I read plenty of comics and graphic novels, and haven’t been including them in my totals or in my posts. I don’t include them in my totals because well, in my head, graphic novels are different than prose books. That’s said with no disrepect for the medium, (in fact, many times I like them more than prose), but the word ‘medium’ is the crux there for me. If I was keeping track of the movies that I watch I wouldn’t count the plays I may see, even though the act of watching is the same. So, I don’t count graphic novels in my count, even though I’m reading them. I haven’t been writing about them for the same reason, but I may rethink that. One of my goals for the year is to create a website, when I do I’ll have a special graphic novel section to make it up.

Current total: 9
Just Finished: Away with the Fairies by Kerry Greenwood
Currently reading: Marion Davies by Fred Laurence Guiles

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