Frog Music-Emma Donoghue
Blanche tells the story of the life and death of Jenny, shot dead in the same room as her, as Blanche tries to find the killer.
This was brilliantly researched. The setting, the characters’ attitudes, and the news stories of the times are on point. Donoghue writes with a vibrancy that brings alive this whole time period and the tumultuous lives lived. She doesn’t skimp on the details but also manages not to wholly overwhelm you with them-a delicate balance.
However, I ended up dissatisfied with the book overall. The plot and the characterization were not balanced with as much skill as the research and prose were. I never really felt like I knew the characters all too well and so it wasn’t until the third part of the book (the atmosphere is what kept me turning the pages-that and my stubbornness), that I really didn’t care too much about Jenny’s death. It felt a little like Donoghue was writing a feminist book but failed to do so. The characters are struggling to find themselves, define themselves as women outside of the influence of men, but Donoghue kills off the non-gender conforming one, from the start, and the other finds herself only by realizing she was meant to be a mother. So the message I ended up receiving was not one of the strength of women when they rise above the men who keep them back but rather that it’s best for women to be proper mothers because otherwise, as prostitutes, as non-feminine women, their lives will be dissatisfactory and short.