Well, not all of them, not yet anyway. Thanks to Sherry, I recently discovered the Phryne Fisher series, and quickly read my way through the first 3 books. I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about the protagonist, although I appreciate that she’s not your typical 1920s detective. (Weirdly enough, Phryne’s spending habits stress me out. I am perpetually worried that her seemingly endless supply of funds will run out. As I said, weird.) I unreservedly love the author’s attention to detail (especially for clothes, swoon) and ability to recreate the atmosphere of the era and location (Melbourne, Australia). I’m a bit miffed that the books are rather pricey; I like buying my favourite mystery novels, as I tend to re-read them periodically, but the series is some 20 plus novels strong and counting, and at $15+ a pop I don’t fancy my odds of collecting the whole lot. I haven’t been to the public library in years — it may be time for a visit.

On a related note, if you love the fashion described in the books as much as I do, I suggest checking out this Reddit sub for some Phryne #styleinspo.

For Christmas, one of the gifts I bought my husband was a copy of the Atlas Obscura, which struck me as the sort of thing he would enjoy; he is forever looking up obscure factoids on Wikipedia, and emerging from some unlikely rabbit hole hours later, way past his bedtime (ahem). To be honest, though, it also looked like the kind of book I would enjoy reading as well, and indeed I have been dipping in and out of it over the last few weeks. It’s similar to an encyclopedia, except with more photos. Would definitely recommend for the adventurer-at-heart in your life.

Branching out a bit from the usual here, but I would be remiss if I did not tell you to watch the new Victoria series on PBS (Sunday nights). I have been waiting for this show to come to our side of the Pond for months, and so far it has not disappointed. If you’re a stickler for historical accuracy, you may be disappointed; but if you love watching gorgeous people wearing gorgeous clothes on gorgeous sets, then you will be hooked. The cast is led by Jenna Coleman, whom you may recognize from Doctor Who (which I have not watched since Rose and the Tenth Doctor parted ways) and who is fantastic as teenage “Vicky”, and Rufus Sewell, who is always fantastic and whom you may recognize from my occasional drooling posts. Sewell plays Lord Melbourne, who was a sort of (much older) father figure to the young queen at the beginning of her reign, prior to her marriage to the “dreamboat” Albert. By rights, this should make the Vicbourne “ship” a tough sail except that I am *totally* on-board, no questions asked — and that is even after Lord M rocked some truly unfortunate looking high-waisted trousers in the premiere episode. Albert who? I have an enormous soft spot for RS as Aurelio Zen — another, too short-lived “must watch” series — but Lord M might be one of my favourite roles of his to date. His chemistry with Jenna Coleman is strong enough to make me sit through the palace servants’ Downton Abbey knockoff storyline without too much grumbling.

[Fun historical fact: Lord M was married to Caroline Lamb, who had an infamous fling with Lord Byron. The spouses apparently reconciled after the scandal, only to separate again later. He never remarried. He also didn’t look as dashing as Rufus Sewell but then again, nobody does. The man would have chemistry with a phone book, and I volunteer to play the part of said phonebook in any future screen adaptation.]

On to some interesting articles … this Refinery29 post took a look at the (typically negative) way in which women with fertility issues are portrayed in pop culture — The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, anyone? Personally, I think it’s just a part and parcel of the problematic way that women in general are depicted — female characters are frequently either negative stereotypes, Mary Sue improbabilities, or completely lacking in agency. And I say that as a white woman, who at least gets to see characters who look like her, no matter how unsatisfactory their personalities and actions. Invisibility in the media is still, in 2017, a thing that women of colour have to deal with, sadly. On that note, I am really excited to go see Hidden Figures.

On a style-related noted, The Fashion Law recently featured a good article on counterfeit couture. Knock-off designer bags are a well-known issue in the industry and among consumers, but few people realize how pervasive counterfeiting is; everything can and is being knocked-off, from clothes, to all kinds of accessories, to perfume and make-up — and with the off-shoring of so much luxury manufacturing, the counterfeits are becoming harder and harder to distinguish from the real deal. One thing that the article did not touch upon was the dark side of the counterfeit business; I know that, in the past at least, the trade in knock-off bags was linked to gang activity, which added a whole other level of ethical/moral issues to the discussion. I’m not sure if the same is true nowadays, and particularly in respect of high end counterfeits, and I’d be interested to read more on that topic.

15 Comments on What I Read: All the Mysteries

  1. Hi Adina, Ii you’re enjoying the Phryne Fisher books then you’ll adore the TV series called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (made by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation). It’s been running for several years now in Australia, and the clothes are to die for. Hopefully it’s available in Canada.

    • I had heard about it, and I’d be certainly interested in checking it out. I actually don’t watch much TV (not because of a philosophical opposition to it, just got out of the habit, haha!) but I am always willing to make exceptions … PBS’ Victoria being a case in point.

      • I wanted to second the rec for the tv series. I’ve read a couple of the books, but somehow in the show, found Phryne to be a lot more enjoyable–credit to Essie Davis, and the rest of the cast is lovable. And the visuals are stunning!

  2. Can’t promise this is the answer to your book purchasing situ, but have you tried eBay for books in this series? Might be worth a look…

    Thanks for such an interesting post!

  3. Paperbackswap.com may be an option, if you don’t want the books immediately. 80% of the time, people trade nice, almost like new copies. Costs you media mail postage and some patience. Nice way to declutter as well.

  4. I love Phryne Fisher. Try used books from amazon that’s where I got most of mine. If you want another author that writes about the 1920s, try Carola Dunn.

    • I’ve read all of the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries! I enjoyed them a lot, although I think I prefer the Phryne Fisher ones a bit more.

      I’ve definitely looked at the used ones on Amazon (and actually bought a couple) but they are still quite expensive here in Canada (with shipping). I think I was able to find only one under $10 🙁

  5. First of all – love your blog! I admire your style and your point of view.

    A great way to read books that I recently discovered is to get yourself an e-reader that is compatible with your local public library. You can borrow e-books from your public library from the comfort of your home. At the end of the borrow period, they are automatically returned. You can also place a hold and when the e-book is free, it can automatically be downloaded to your e-reader. I already had a Kindle but it is not compatible with the public library system in Toronto so i got an Aura (which is compatible) and it was the best purchase ever. I realize that for a lot of people part of the magic is holding the book in your hands, but there are lots of books you probably don’t want to read again. And the convenience is amazing

    • If you like mystery series, have you tried the Sebastian St Cyr series by C.S. Harris, the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters or the Julian Kestrel series by Kate Ross. The last series only has 4 novels because the author died tragically early at 32 of cancer. What a loss! There is also, of course the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley.

      • I’ve heard of the Amelia Peabody series, but not the others. I’ll definitely be looking them up, thanks for the recommendations!

        • You’re welcome! How about the Lord Peter Whimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers. They were written in the 20s and 30s so there are some politically incorrect aspects from today’s perspective, but the writing is excellent, and the characters are very compelling. Sayers was a noted scholar who even published a complete translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. If they are new to you, you may want to read them in chronological order. The first is pretty good, but they get better and better.

          • I’ve read all the Peter Whimsey stories at one point, although I have to confess that of the grande dames of early 20th century English mystery, I prefer Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh (who was not, strictly speaking, English but whose hero was, so close enough). But it’s been years since I last read Sayers, so it may be time for a revisit.

    • I do love old-fashioned books, and I love collecting them for my home library, so I’m not naturally drawn to e-books, although it’s hard to beat that kind of convenience. It’s looking more and more like the public library is my only option.