Saturday, May 31, 2014

Unpunished

After endlessly procrastinating (I have no idea why), I finally got around to reading Unpunished.  And I am so glad that I did!  Unpunished is written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a fairly famous feminist writer from the 20s.  She is better known for writing such things as The Yellow Wallpaper and Herland.  However, before she became a famous writer, she wrote a little mystery gently poking fun at mysteries of the time and providing radical (for the time) social commentary.  This mystery is Unpunished.

Unpunished is the story of a surprisingly (again, for the time) equal couple.  This husband and wife are joint detectives.  Every evening, they come home, cook supper, and then clean up together.  This might not sound jaw-dropping for today, but for that time period, this was pretty ridiculously unexpected.  The husband finds out about a new case in which a very unlikeable man has been shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, hanged (not hung, people), and poisoned.  As the couple digs into the mystery, they realize what a truly awful person this man was.  This man (sorry, I can't remember his name) ruled all of the women in his home with an iron fist and oppressed so many people that were "lower" than he was to such an awful extent that any number of people are suspected for murdering him.  In fact, the reader is actually expected to sympathize with the suspected members, rather than the murdered person.  The family is miserable and oppressed and would like nothing better than to get back at this tyrant.  Gilman writes so bitterly about this man that I was quite sure that she had had some experience with somebody rather like him.  I went back and read the preface and, sure enough, her brother-in-law was, apparently, a hateful and bossy old somebody who ruled her after her father died.

Aside from being a good mystery that left me saying, "What?!" at the end of it, this story was well written and made some pretty important commentary, even for today.  Sure, bossy old fathers forcing their young daughters into unwanted arranged marriages isn't happening very frequently, but the way people interact with each other and the world is still a relevant topic today.  This book is slow going at first, but the story starts to seep in to you after a few chapters.   I highly recommend it

And I have the amazon link.  Our library was discarding it and I just happened to catch it, so I don't know how many libraries are keeping the book.  (I'm not saying that your library doesn't have it- our's has the unfortunate tendency to throw out the old books and keep buying new, more "relevant" books.)  Happy Reading!



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