Elizabeth Peters Week continues!
If you've been meaning to get in on the action, NOW IS THE TIME. As I've received so many lovely contributions (I'm still taking them, but only through today!), I've been running some of the longer ones over the course of the week, and I'll be posting the rest and linking everything up tomorrow.
So here we are, at the end—unless Elizabeth Peters decides to revisit the character—of the Jacqueline Kirby series. Due to the success of her books—you never doubted that she'd make the bestseller list, did you?—she quit her job as a librarian and is a full-time writer.
Although her new celebrity status is great for her (already healthy) ego, she's been feeling discontent lately, and has been thinking seriously about packing it all in, getting out of the public part of the writing game and moving to the country. But that's before she ends up on the shortlist to write a sequel to Naked in the Ice, a brilliant work of historical romance written by Kathleen Darcy, who tragically disappeared seven years ago and is presumed dead by suicide.
Before long, Jacqueline is holed up Kathleen Darcy's hometown of Pine Grove—I know that you didn't doubt that she'd get the gig—and before long, she's convinced that Kathleen Darcy was a victim of Foul Play. Not only that, but she's starting to get the feeling that whoever got to Kathleen has now set his—or her!—sights on Jacqueline.
Which, OBVIOUSLY, is not a situation that she will let stand.
So, while Die for Love is all about the publishing world from the perspective of an outside observer, Naked Once More is about the publishing world (and about writing) from the perspective of an insider. For that alone, the book is worth reading. And as you'd expect, there are loads of rants and asides and quips about the little irritations and annoyances of the writing life, as well as some great bits along the lines of HELLO, IT'S MY JOB, OF COURSE I'M GOING TO CHARGE YOU FOR AN INTERVIEW. No romantic statements about An Artist And Her Muse from our Ms. Kirby: on that topic, she's wonderfully dry and cynical. Also, at one point Jacqueline lists off a list of 'Great Authors', and it goes something like: Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Barbara Michaels... AHAHAHAHAHA!
Since Jacqueline is on her own this time—no Watson character, and a whole lot of solitude—Naked Once More is a much more sedate read than Die for Love, more introspective (well, as introspective as this series gets), and it's got far fewer farcical scenes and elements. It actually has a much more Gothic feel, what with the cast of characters and Kathleen Darcy's mysterious disappearance and the adventures by moonlight and the decaying buildings and the various ongoing personal dramas going on in town. Of course, none of those divergences from the usual formula stops the book from ending in the traditional fashion: with Jacqueline bossing all of the suspects into sitting down and shutting up while she lectures them about How She Figured It All Out.
I love her. I love her curiosity and her love of knowledge and her love of food, I love that she can pick up a book and lose an entire day, I love that she is equally comfortable drinking beers and shooting pool with a small town's ex-sheriff as she is swigging martinis in a swanky NYC establishment with the literati. I love that she's a walking contradiction: super no-nonsense, but prone to being silly; capable of being steely and tough, but also capable of genuine warmth, and of comforting those in need of comfort; prickly but also eminently likable; one who avoids beating around the bush, but is also capable of being extremely subtle; a huge fan of petty revenge, but... well, there's no opposing behavior there. She's a huge fan of petty revenge, period. I love her. I love her, I love her, I love her.
And now, yet again, I've finished the series... and now, yet again, I'm totally depressed that I've finished the series. Does anyone know of any readalikes? Amelia Peabody readalikes are easy to come by, but what about Jacqueline Kirby readalikes? Anyone?
Book source: Personal copy.