Take that, John Knox!
We’re starting discussion of Monstrous Regiment of Women over at the book club, for which I wrote an intro I thought I’d reproduce here:
In 1558, the Protestant John Knox wrote a treatise condemning the preponderance of female rulers in England, calling it â€œThe First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.â€ It was aimed at the two Roman Catholic Marys, Scotland and England, but when Elizabeth came to the throne soon afterward, the anti-woman element of his treatise outweighed the anti-Roman side. One can understand her disinclination to go along with such sentiments as:
â€œFor who can deny but it is repugnant to nature that the blind shall be appointed to lead and conduct such as do see? That the weak, the sick, and impotent persons shall nourish and keep the whole and strong? And finally, that the foolish, mad, and frenetic shall govern the discreet, and give counsel to such as be sober of mind? And such be all women, compared unto man in bearing of authority. For their sight in civil regiment is but blindness; their strength, weakness; their counsel, foolishness; and judgment, frenzy, if it be rightly considered.â€
(Incidentally, Knoxâ€™s second marriage, at the age of fifty, was to a lesser Royal who was seventeen years old. He never got around to writing â€œThe Second Blast of the Trumpet.â€)
(And oddly enough, Terry Pratchett’s book Monstrous Regiment came out at about the same time as mine, although as far as I know, not too many people confused the two.)
This illustrates one of the things I love about crime fiction: it can be about anything. Anything. Bell ringing; collecting old books; flat-out insane men who dismember women in imaginative ways; a dozen idiots who decide to rob a casino; a young woman who meets a charismatic religious leader and finds a disconcerting number of dead bodies…
In any of these cases, you don’t have to make the reader believe that bell ringing, robbery, murder, or the rest are viable life choices. You merely have to make the reader see that for the character in the book, it is the only viable life choice.
Verisimilitude. It’s all in the wrist.