For the sixty-fourth book (getting close to the end!) in the challenge, I read The Grave Gourmet by Alexander Campion, the first in the Capucine Culinary Mystery series.
It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really click with me. There were some cultural differences that gave me trouble (despite speaking some French, I’m fairly ignorant of the culture and a lot of references and explanations went straight over my head), and I didn’t relate to Capucine very much. It was probably more realistic of a detective story than the ones I’m accustomed to reading, but that doesn’t necessarily make it more entertaining (real life generally isn’t as exciting).
There is also a lot of sexism coming from every direction and every person, and that sucked. To be fair, I’m sure that a woman in a traditionally masculine job is going to encounter a LOT of sexism, both the grossly overt and the subtler, “benevolent” kind, but it was hard to deal with coming from every single character. Thing is, it’s possible that Campion made it so obvious in an effort to show exactly how institutionalized and oppressive sexism and strict gender roles are, such that even the main character has thoroughly internalized it, as much as she struggles with it coming from other people. His male characters are borderline cardboard cut-outs composed entirely of toxic masculinity, and the other woman amongst Capucine’s new crew is pretty much a dude with boobs, so…it could be a way to bring attention to the tropes. Or Campion could just be oblivious to the whole thing and unironically trying to portray a feminist as a woman whose strategy to be taken seriously by The Men is going braless when asking for a job transfer. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t’ think I can.
The whole book left a bad taste in my mouth; even if there wasn’t the sexism, there were other things that I don’t even want to dig through to detail for you. Furthermore, I had high hopes for the culinary side of these adventures, but so far that has been limited to stuff her husband Alexandre (…you put yourself in the book?!) feeds her or takes her to eat in restaurants. That’s okay, but not what I expected either. I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars.