As I recently shared, doing a little more reading for fun is one of my goals for this year. I’ve decided to focus on reading collections of short stories, rather than novels, memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, and the like. I have to admit that recently my attention span has been really short, also I don’t always have a ton of time on a regular basis and it can be hard to pick up a longer book after several days of not reading it. You forget the plot so you’re trying to refresh your memory as you read along. That doesn’t make for a very good reading experience, as far as I’m concerned.
This month I had the pleasure of reading *most* of A Moment on the Edge: 100 Years of Crime Stories by Women by Elizabeth George. Mysteries are not my usual genre, so I was really excited to dive into something that is completely different from what I normally read. The stories curated by George did not disappoint, they were fabulous. The characters in the stories were complex and fleshed out in a way that I would not have expected. The social issues they tackle in their stories are compelling, although it is somewhat depressing to see what problems that existed 75 years ago still exist today.
In the preface to the book, George talks about the rich history of women writing mystery novels. Her comments, both in the preface and in the introduction she wrote about each author to introduce their stories, strongly reminded me of a recent “Stuff You Missed in History” podcast about Frances Glessner Lee and her immense contributions to the field of forensic science. While George claims that women are represented so well in the crime/mystery genre is because we are pragmatic, everyone loves a good mystery, I would argue that it also has a lot to do with our ability to be extremely rebellious without anyone knowing that we’re really rebelling. Much like Frances Glessner Lee build amazingly accurate crime scenes (under the guise of decorating doll houses), Dorothy L. Sayers, Nedra Tyre, and Joyce Harrington knew exactly how to tell compelling and rebellious stories and skirted the edges of “acceptable” behavior and managed to pay their bills doing it.