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Vilja Reads

I'm a student, so I don't have nearly as much time for leisure reading as I'd like. If I manage to read an entire course book instead of just the assigned chapters, I'll review that here, too.

Introducing The Honourable Phryne Fisher (Phryne Fisher, #1-3)

Introducing The Honourable Phryne Fisher (Phryne Fisher, #1-3) - Kerry Greenwood


The novels have some idiosyncracies, such as Phryne acting before the author has revealed her reasoning, the reasoning becoming apparent later. Less entertaining ones are the habit of describing Miss Fisher's outfits in worshipful detail, though this becomes rarer in the second and third books, and the way the author sometimes hops between points of view without so much as a double paragraph break for a warning.

The last point above has made me put a book down before, but not so in this case. There's just too much to love. It's as if Greenwood drew up a list of everything women are not allowed to be or do in crime fiction and then wrote it. You can't be a vamp and a hero! You can't have sex and not die! You can't not be in love! You can't be in control of your own household!

Phryne is sensual, composed, unflappable, compassionate, totally independent, and practically fearless. But female agency doesn't stop with Phryne - her confidante Dr MacMillan is a woman who fought the whole medical establishment to get a practice, Jillian Henderson is an excellent lawyer still fighting the establishment to get a case that isn't family law, Bunji is a female flying ace because why not. Pretty women, plain women, old women, fat women, and most of them totally badass.

You might call it too much, especially when Phryne gets in no trouble for arriving at a high class hotel wearing nothing but torn underthings and a man's shirt, but I am tired of female characters in crime fiction being shamed or stripped of power for being promiscuous or assertive or unattractive. I'll take it.

You might also complain about some solutions being too easy or convenient, but everything generally gets wrapped up in a neat package. Each of these novels concerns two cases at once, the intertwining of them and the multiple climaxes/solutions makes for an interesting format.

Note: The third novel, Murder on the Ballarat Train, contains two racial slurs that might suit the characterisation and the 1920s, but not a book written in 1991.