I spent most of March trying to read Personal History by Katherine Graham, which I had picked for my book club’s selection this month. (I made it through 400 of the 650 pages, but finishing it will have to be something I do this month. Maybe). Anyway, I forbid myself to read anything else while try to plow through Personal History (never a good move on my part), and ended up finishing just two books back in the beginning of the month. Those books were both fiction, and in hard copy:
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. The third book in the Chief Inspection Gamache series. This is a quiet, more thoughtful mystery series, with a somewhat psychological focus. Not in the thriller sense, just in the focus of the way people think, feel, relate to one another. It’s honestly not my favorite series, but the most recent book got a lot of good press this year, so I thought I’d give it another try. In this book a woman dies, seemingly of fright, at a seance and Gamache is charged with solving the mystery.
Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood. This is the second book in the Phryne Fisher series and was mostly a fun, silly read, but about 3/4 of the way through the book, Greenwood used the phrase “picaninny sky” to describe the morning light, and it’s pretty well soured me on the whole thing. I went so far as too look up the phrase in the OED, in the vague hopes that this had a more benign meaning in Australia (where Greenwood is from and the books are set), but nope, it pretty much refers to what you are thinking it refers too. I think this especially bothered me because the use of the phrase was gratuitous. People use racist language in real life, so of course it appears in books, but there was no need for this particular phrase to be used then. There are lots of other ways to describe the morning sky and I don’t think that Greenwood was trying to paint her heroine as racist. I think the phrase was used carelessly, without realizing that it was a hurtful thing to say. Anyway, a lot of thoughts about two words in a cheesy mystery, but it’s left me with a sour taste in my mouth.