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I'm Mad

I finished reading the 6th chronicle of the Matthew Bartholomew series, and I'm mad.

1. I love the character of Clippesby, and he is depicted in this, the first book he appears in, as dangerous and mean. This is the polar opposite of his depiction in all the other books. The character I know and love a is gently eccentric soul who talks to animals. In this first book, Clippesby talks to the dead and is the bloodthirsty sidekick of the tyrannical new master. And he is at the man's side for no reason. He's just crazy. Did someone take Susanna aside and explain that mental illness doesn't make people completely psychopathic for no reason?

2. Is this the fifth female evil, manipulative mastermind of the series? I think it is. It's a real pattern with Ms. Gregory, where women are often greedy 'powers behind the throne.' I don't know what her deal is, but I find myself rolling my eyes every time I see it. What gets me is that this series is set in the mid-1300's in Cambridge, England. Hell, by the story's own admission, women were not allowed to attend the University there. Or in most places in Europe. It was an era when women were facing a contraction in some areas of commerce, a lot of ongoing misogyny, and an increase in prosecutions for sexual crimes (that last one affected both sexes, but the double-standard was and is strong.) In other words, women had few options if they wanted to keep body and soul together. To constantly make them the arch-all-powerful villains all the time gives the impression that Ms. Gregory thinks that the only good woman is one that marries and quietly pumps out babies with nary an aspiration in her head. I don't think that's her intention, but the impression was strong in this book.

2.5 Is it just me, or does she not like her gay characters?

3. There is a point in the book where the college master turns on Clippesby apparently for the joy of being mean. Probably, the real reason is that the writer wants Clippesby framed for the master's death. Ms. Gregory is normally pretty good with plot construction, and this is actually one of her tighter, shorter works. She even manages to keep her prologue short and somewhat relevant. But her murderer's schemes are often somewhat cobbled together and feel like they are simply hooked together by gossamer. Three people are stealing together, one person gets wind of it, and suddenly you get four murderers spinning off their own schemes. Diabolical master plans can get out of hand.

In short, I am disappointed with Ms. Gregory.

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