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[personal profile] jocelyncee
I finally picked up fun reading about two weeks ago, and have ripped through three novels in that time (in addition to doing my homework, yet). During the heap big studying I did for my exams, the only fun reading I could manage had to have pictures, or, better yet, was only pictures. I was sufficiently brain-fried from reading literature that novels weren't even a possibility until about... well... two weeks ago.

I started off with the bookstore lady's recommendation, Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne. The recommendation came on the basis that I liked (okay seriously <3 !) the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. This is a similar genre, and I thought, okay, give it a shot.

What I got was a rather predictable reading experience: I knew who committed the murder within the first 80 pages, and I had seized upon this person as a suspect before the first 40 were up. After that it was all a matter of seeing 1) what happened 2) what nuances led the heroine to solve the mystery. In spite of a few brief high points (the final scene revealing all, a clear homage to Agatha Christie's parlor scenes; a couple of nice twists and turns; the incredible amount of historical detail) I was horribly disappointed by a number of things.

First of all, although our heroine was supposed to be quite the strong female character, the characterization of her was inconsistent, relying on the juxtaposition of tropes (the fiery redhead, the uppity educated woman + "I'm so dainty" behavior) to create a dynamic, feisty yet feminine heroine, who just seemed like several different people at once. I had a hard time differentiating between her and, say, most of the other female characters who weren't old or, well, lesbian (but I'm getting to that).

And all the prominent female characters were beautiful, if they were young and straight. It was the description of Sister Gwid that really pissed me off to no end diverged from the 'norm' of Young + Beautiful = Nun (or Young + Nun = Beautiful). She is large, clumsy, unattractive, brash, crass, and, it is revealed, almost monstrously violent. She appears unintelligent, although our heroine discovers she has a good knowledge of Greek, and, get this, more of an affinity for Sappho than for Greek theological writings. This, of course, makes her a lesbian. This is not called a lesbian, but the hints are numerous, and the motive for killing the beautiful (and important-to-the-plot-that-she-die) Abbess is that poor Sister Gwid is in love with her, and when she finds out that the Abbess is planning to give up her post and marry.

The final straw for me was the Romantick ending. Fidelma decides to go back to Ireland, not follow the man she's hot for, and gets, unexpectedly (?), a charge from the higher ups to go to Rome, which just happens to be where he's going. How's that for "Women can choose all they like, but no, we are conspiring to give her a romantick entanglement, because she's just not a woman without a romantick entanglement".

Brother Cadfael never had this problem. I understand that the practice of celibacy varied between the Celtic and Roman Church, but seriously. That was the plot to this whole novel, wasn't it? Does this really need to be the theme for an entire series of books?
The next book was An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters.

After that disappointing finale, my only option was to turn to reliable Peters, in whose books, if there is a lack of feminism, at least it's not disguised as being feminism. Interestingly enough, this book, too, centered around the 'unnaturalness' of homosexual desire, which was, of course, brought on in a monk by an abusive woman. The obsession was depicted in a quite realistic manner, however, at least until the miraculous salvation at the end, wherein the monk is healed of his affliction. The cause of it, however, was the more intriguing, at least from an analytic standpoint. He was infatuated with a young fellow monk (later two young monks) because, get this, the youth's beauty reminded him of his abusive (and now divorced) wife.

So, it wasn't really homosexual, he was just a middle-aged mentally deteriorating pedophile (the first youth was 16, the other, 19).

This was a more satisfying read, even if it left me with some things to ponder.

And now for something completely different.

The third book I (re-)read The Golden Compass this week, so in honor of that, here's my daemon! [ profile] black_kitty reminded me of it, so I thought I'd do this again. I did this before when Kit had this in her LJ, and I had an ocelot daemon named Brynn. My 'new' daemon is...

I started the second book in the series, The Subtle Knife today, and am already a full 50 pages into it, in spite of many other activities.

One of which was getting a job.

I was hired on today to work in Produce at The Merc which honestly tickles me pink. I've been looking for a while now and was beginning to think that everyone would consider me 'overqualified', which is, quite frankly, annoying as hell.

In any case, I'm going to be learning a lot about fresh stuff, which is good, since I like to 1) cook it and 2) eat it. I plan to further my culinary education with the classes they offer there (not a bad thing, and they're free to employees!)

And I'll have a few days off (once the lady on maternity leave comes back) to do what I want, which is working towards becoming a real live translator.

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April 2009


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