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rogerloranbailey

Readings and Ramblings

This is Readings and Ramblings. It is readings because this is a site for blogging about books and I intend to do that. It is ramblings because I might want to write about something else now and then.

A Personal Devil: A Magdalene la Batarde Mystery

A Personal Devil: A Magdalene la Batarde Mystery - Roberta Gellis This is a murder mystery and as a murder mystery it works well enough and I will say I liked it well enough. The twist is that it is an historical murder mystery. It takes place in England of 1139. The problems I had with it relate to that. Frankly, I did not get the feel of twelfth century England. Okay, no one pulled out their cell phone or traveled in an automobile. The expected level of technology was all in place, but there was very little reference to it. In one way that is good writing. One would not want the setting to overwhelm the story and so the state of technology should be just referred to and then it should be back to the plot, but in this book the references to the technology were so casual I tended to miss them and did not think, for the most part, that this was all taking place in 1139. Also, this was only seventy-three years after the Norman conquest and England was under a dictatorship that amounted to a foreign occupation with the Saxons in near slavery. There was very little reference at all to this political situation. One could easily forget that England was an oppressed nation with an ongoing effort to wipe out the Saxon culture. Furthermore, in the twelfth century the entirety of Europe was under a theocratic rule that permeated the lives of everyone. If someone did not conform to the religious dictates of the time that person would be in great danger of being tied to a stake and burned alive. In this story all the characters seem to be pretty much secular with only a few references to religion throughout the book. Despite these omissions, though, I think the real reason I didn't get the feel of it being some 900 years ago was just because everyone had such modern attitudes. They came across as just the regular people you would expect to run across in your modern everyday life. Still, though, the story was entertaining and enjoyable. Just don't expect to feel like you are being immersed in the culture of a far bygone time.
By the way, I very much liked the blind character. In most fiction blind characters are either depicted negatively as helpless incompetants who deserve only pity or as some kind of super blind types with mysterious powers. In this book the blind character was depicted as just a regular person who happens not to be able to see what she is doing and, after all, isn't that exactly what blind people are? There might be a bit of the unrealistic to that too though. All the other characters treated her as just a regular person who happened to not be able to see what she was doing. Well, in that time period blind people were dressed up in donkey ears and set to fight each other for entertainment. I have my doubts that a blind woman in 1139 would have been treated as just another person.