June has been a non-stop reading month for me–I’m waiting to hear about employment in the fall, so my anxiety has had me reaching for book after book after book, just to keep away from those lovely spinning thoughts. (26 books in June. I’m winning that summer reading contest that I’ve not been enrolled in since 6th grade. And I think it’s because of those reading contests that I feel like I need a popsicle now.) And since I’m not working, I have the time. (This sounds like, and I”m sure is, a #firstworldproblem, but I am so bored by not working that I absolutely can’t stand myself. It was unexpected, so couldn’t have been prevented, but I long to reach that sweet spot of being neither so stressed I can’t breathe nor completely unproductive. Like I said, #firstworldproblems. There’s been many a point in my life that an unexpected spot of unemployment would have been crazy tragic, financially, and I’m not in that spot right now, so I’m trying to be grateful for the time to slow down. It’s not easy.
Anyway, last books of June. I think I need to step up my game a bit–these both annoyed me to no end, yet I’m currently reading the next book in each of these series. Dunno why.
81. Paragon Walk, Anne Perry
1980, approx 300 pgs, 65 of Reader’s Choice, reread
I’ve spoken at length about pros and cons of these books–nutshell: details are great, primary characters are good, secondary characters are forgettable and interchangable, plots get ridiculously repetitive. Of course the bad guy is the most important. Hello, we know that power corrupts. Got it, thankyouverymuch. Anyway, I’m in a Victorian headspace lately, and so am rereading a few of these just to track how she does what she does well, and to stay focused on the mid-century goodness.
Plot: A girl is raped and murdered in the oh-so-exclusive Paragon Walk, and Thomas Pitt is called in to investigate. Shockingly, his wife Charlotte’s sister, Emily, lives in the square with her husband, Lord Ashworth so, of course, Charlotte gets all up in that business.
Problems: It’s necessary to maintain the pretense that Charlotte is a traditional Victorian wife (a role which she hasn’t really broken so far in the series), and so all of these mysteries have to affect Charlotte or her family in some way personally. When Christina Yang left Grey Memorial (yes, I’m pulling out a Grey’s Anatomy reference, #noshame) (#oklotofshame), she referenced all of the horrrrrrible things that have happened to the the group of interns that started together. Lord. The deaths (poor George), the crazies (poor Izzy), the terrorists, the bombs, the airplane crashes, the multiple storms that shut down basically everything and were tracked to some thrilling musical score, the divorces, the scandals, the holycrapofitall. I think she called it a crazy devil hospital, thought that might have been a blog post I read after, but she definitely urged Mer not to stay. And that was before the whole Der thing. God. That show is ridiculous. Anyway. Yet still I watch.
So I think that’s basically where Charlotte Pitt needs to be right now. She needs to be calling in the wise women to purge her house with sage, because she’s got some seriously bad juju going on. And yes, I’ll read the next one. But c’mmon. There needs to be a slightly more reasonable reason for Charlotte to get involved with a mystery than her brother-in-law is suspected. Again. (The next one, the one I’m currently reading, is yet another personal connection. Le sigh.)
82. A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness
2011, 592 pgs, 66 of Reader’s Choice, reread
Plot: Diana and Matthew (witch and vampire) meet in Oxford where they are both academics, get swept up huge dramatic thing about this book that apparently will tell all the creatures where they came from, and in the process fall madly and dramatically in love, which is quite against the rules.
I’ve read this a zillion times. (Ok, maybe three.) These books are ridiculously enjoyable–Harkness is an academic, and it shows in her attention to detail. And the world she’s created is fun.
But we need to talk about Matthew.
Matthew is beginning to seriously piss me off. At first, it was all so–oh, what a beautiful library! And yay! Authentic details about 16th century England! But now I’m feeling very much like that one terrible reading when I realized what an absolute and utter asshole Heathcliff was. (I’m sorry, having a broken heart does not give you the excuse to yell at the dogs. Just get over yourself.) And I had so loved Wuthering Heights before that. And that part where freaking Rochester fools Jane into thinking he’s going to marry Blanche Ingram. For absolutely no earthly purpose other than to watch Jane’s face blanch. (See what I did there? So clever.) (And Blanche Ingram would so have worn pink on Wednesdays.) I know they have their reasons, poor, pitiful, tortured, Byronic heroes that they are. And it’s all about luuurve. But still.
Sigh. This is why Lord Peter Wimsey is the best, h/t to Dorothy L. Sayers. He has actual problems (er, shell shock?) but manages to deal with his difficulties without treating the people around him dreadfully. There are so few romantic heroes that you don’t have to make allowances for. I mean, these are guys that you’d hold an intervention for a friend if she were considering dating. These are the ones we’re supposed to swoon over. Fer crying out loud. Love is awesome, please protect those around you as much as you are able, however you identify, but the male posturing and authority taking? I’m just so over it. Matthew, please sit down and shut up, you are not actually a pack leader.
*Yes, I know that the series follows Diana gaining power and so becoming equal…. but you don’t earn equality. Equality is a given. And I know that it’s vampires and witches, and not just straight up gender stuff, but c’mmon. It’s ALL gender stuff. And I’m a little pissy right now because I’m listening to the 2nd book, Shadow of Night, and he’s much worse in the Elizabethan England than he is in modern Oxford. But still, dear Matthew Clermont whateveryournameis. Go suck an egg.
**Also, I’m perfectly aware of the inconsistencies implicit in a comparison of early 19th C heroes, with early 20th C, with early 21 C. I get that they are representations of ideals and not really supposed to be judged on quite the same scale as, say, the guy that just won’t shut up at the bar. You’re very smart, thank you for pointing that out, now go work on your thesis.