The first thing I thought when I read the title of Blanche Among the Talented Tenth was, what a mouthful! I am generally up for reading any mystery, especially one that is termed cozy. So off I was to Amber Cove, an elitist vacation resort in Maine.
Blanche cleans houses for a living. She has two adopted kids, her niece and nephew. She moved to Boston from the South for a better life. Her kids now go to a private school. Of course, none of their friends know what their mother does for a living! As her kids get snottier, Blanche is afraid she is going to lose them. And very soon, her values and ideology will be different from that of her kids’. So when an opportunity opens up to babysit her kids and their friends at an upscale seaside resort in Maine, she says yes.
When Blanche arrives in Amber Cove, she is shocked by how the other half live. The ‘other’ I mean here is rich African Americans. The only divide between them and her is money! Or is it? The guests at Amber Cove have been coming there for years, almost all their life. There are some couples, and there is a famous writer who is big on women’s lib. The staff looks down upon Blanche.
Blanche shares all her views and opinions with her friend who is far off in the South. Meanwhile, a man is found dead at Amber Cove. And it seems another woman died in her bathtub. Everyone thinks her death was accidental. But Blanche begins to think there is a killer on the loose. There are some attempts on her life too. She takes it all calmly while romancing the local pharmacy man. One of the rich boys and his girl friend are trying to woo the parents.
Half or more of the book is about class and color differences. How the rich look down on the poor. How there are degrees of skin color and so on. Blanche is not low on confidence. In fact, she has clear ideas about what she wants. She is quick to discipline her kids when needed. And yes, she does some sleuthing on the side.
Blanche Among the Talented Tenth was very different. And I liked it for being just that.