Book Review: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) The Secret Life of Anna Blanc – Jennifer Kincheloe

The author’s intention and primary premise were intriguing: a brilliant and wealthy young woman in the early 20th century feeling confined by social conventions and her father’s rules, takes matters into her own hands and forges a new path of criminal investigation for herself. Sounds good, right?! That’s why I picked this up from the library…however, the execution was disappointing. While I can understand why some people like this book, I found myself mostly irritated by the main character, Anna Blanc, and her interactions with the other characters during her adventures throughout the book. 

Anna Blanc is not a lovable (likable) character, rather she is rash, spoiled, and does not consider the consequences of her decisions and actions, especially the consequences for other people. She does not seem to understand that her actions affect others and sometimes those consequences are negative. At one point her actions lead directly to another woman’s (who Anna thought of as a ‘friend’) arrest and termination of employment. Given the limited choices women had in the early 20th century for employment, this woman ends up working in a brothel and is murdered. Anna seems to barely even notice that her actions lead directly to this other woman’s troubles and eventual death. 

Anna’s inability to express herself honestly in relationship is a literary prime example of the horrifying “women say one thing but mean the exact opposite” trope which is extremely problematic in our current era. Not only is she erratic in her relationships but also when she is interpreting ‘clues’ as the mystery unfolds. She ‘discovers’ who the murderer is no less than three times (three different people) before she finally settles on the actual culprit.  

I should mention that I believe the author meant for some of Anna’s erratic behavior to be humorous and therefore endear Anna to the reader, however, I found the way she was written to be utterly ingrained in the worst stereotypes of ‘female behavior,’ that any humor was completely lost on me. 

Read on my friends!

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