Sorry, John Grisham. You're off my list now.
I'm on holidays, and while you drool over my beachy pics, imagine me, flat out on a sofa reading and reading and reading.
Uh huh. It's a good time.
I don't like to read serious stuff when I'm on holidays. My favourite books are thrillers, pacy, page-turners that whisk me into another world, solve the crime and let me go again without inspiring too much drenching emotion. I'm here to run away from everything, not feel sad about the problems of the world.
I've always been partial to a legal thriller as well, and the king of the legal thrillers is of course, John Grisham, who has been high on my list since almost his very first book.
I've read a lot of Grisham, but spaced out over many years. At the beginning of my legal thriller adventure, I enjoyed the way his characters seemed fearless and smart, but there was always a niggle in my head as well.
Generally, his main characters are men. And generally, they all make comments on the women they encounter. And I remember thinking, years ago, 'I would never be a female character in a Grisham novel: I'm not thin enough.'
It's true. The 'approved' female characters, who are presented as women you want to be or be with, are all thin and leggy, in a Grisham book. I am not thin, or leggy. When I realised that I wouldn't make it as a character, I felt sad and annoyed. And a little bit invisible. I brushed it away though: the rest of the good stuff in his work made up for the slightly sexist crap, right? And anyway, maybe that was just that character who was like that - there are definitely some characters who are sexist, so I could live with it, as being part of the character.
It's just this week, having read three new (to me) Grisham novels within five days, that I have decided that the sexist crap is not just slight. It's pretty full on, actually. You don't need to mention the length of the opposing counsel's legs every time she appears on the page, Mr Grisham. You don't need to constantly have men turning their heads to look at leggy blondes, no matter what character they are. You don't need to call a fuller figured woman who enjoys hiking and wears clothes that are suitable for outdoor adventures, a 'sexless creature'. It seems to say more about the author than about the story.
Within the current climate of sexism being called out as 'not okay' I'd like to tell one of my -favourite writers that I wish he would re-examine what he's writing about women. Why is he writing it? It's so unnecessary. It makes me feel uncomfortable, annoyed and unvalued as a woman reader. It just adds to the stupid amount of cultural noise about woman as objects that we put up with every day.
Sorry Mr Grisham. You're off my list now.