The Secret Life of Anna Blanc. Jennifer Kincheloe. Prometheus Books. November 2015. 375 pp. ISBN#: 9781633880801.
In 2015 Los Angeles one can be as outrageous as one wants and everyone usually takes it all in stride. However, in 1907 Los Angeles, a woman was allowed to marry, raise children and help out in local charities. If that’s your cup of tea, read no further. But if you’ve got a bit of an imp loving to try new things and be a little crazy, then you’re going to find Anna Blanc lives what you may dream. In the beginning of her story, we see her eloping with a young man who says between having a lot of money and her spunk, he’ll be a happy man and they’ll be a happy couple. Right? Not quite!
After this debacle ends, rich Daddy pretty much imprisons Anna and hires a series of chaperones to monitor Anna’s every move when she leaves home. But Anna is no wimp and finally makes a deal with one of those chaperones to exchange clothes and jewelry for six days. So what does Anna really want to do that she needs to do in secret? Actually Anna is not only vain and a shopaholic but also has dreams of making a difference. She wants to be like a friend who works in social service at a police station in L.A. but very, very few positions like this are open to the likes of Anna Blanc. Turns out that she’s in the right place at the right time, especially after getting arrested for marching in a suffragette parade and smoking a cigarette in public.
No spoilers here – Anna is going to become involved in investigating the deaths of several young girls who have been coerced into prostitution out of terrible poverty. At first she’s viewed as a bothersome liberal but little by little as she proceeds with ruthless determination she becomes a highly respected member of the police force. In between those purposeful activities, however, Anna collects fiancés but must wait for quite a while before she finds the one she can truly love, admire, and respect, someone who has got Anna’s back in a secret but protective role.
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc seems very, very contrived but this novel is actually a delight coupled with some witty social satire, as well as good sleuth work. Unusual, crafty and a very pleasant read, Jennifer Kincheloe