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Mary Sue, she's everywhere

I'm very fond of Kerry Greenwood's Phyrne Fisher series, even though it's getting a bit over the top.

When we started out, in Cocaine Blues, Phryne was Exceedingly Gorgeous, Fabulously Rich and Excruciatingly Well-Dressed. From being dirt-poor in Melbourne, Australia, she was catapulted into a life of luxury when a bunch of intermediate heirs died in WWI (although Ms. Greenwood can't quite decide, or remember, exactly what her father's title is; and her grandfather is still alive in Cocaine Blues anyway*). So once her father got his title (or became heir; it's not absolutely clear), he gathered up the fam and carted them off to Jolly Olde, where Phyrne was put into a boarding school, where presumably she learned how to be Exceeding, Fabulous, and Excruciating, not to mention the cynosure of all eyes and the object of all men's (and some women's) desire. It was also mentioned that after the war, she went to Paris, where she lived quite the bohemian life as an artist's model. Oh, and apparently she magically learned how to fly a plane just in time to save a bunch of lives in Scotland from the flu epidemic. And just by the bye, she's a concubine to a Chinese merchant, too, although that doesn't stop her from bedding any attractive man who catches her eye--at least one in each book, and aren't they all just incredibly grateful for the experience!

Over the course of twenty books, Phryne's history has gradually shifted in time--she drove an ambulance in the war (in between terms at the boarding school? Or wait, was that after her father inherited or not?). In the latest book, she not only drove an ambulance during the war, but now, it seems, she was a spy as well, working for MI6.

I love the character, I love the language of the books, but Oh come on now. This is Mary Sue-ism to the max. I continue reading (and listening; I have the books on CD) and enjoying, but I shake my head and grin a lot, too.

The books have been made into a TV series in Australia, featuring an actress who does very well in the role although she's about 20 years too old for it (to be fair, you can't always tell!). In the TV series (available on DVD as Miss Fisher's Mysteries), there's a huge amount of UST between Phryne and her favorite policeman--really, it's smoking--which does not exist at all in the books.

Which just goes to show that a professional writer can get away with stuff that would make any self-respecting fanfic author curl up and die a little inside.

*Phryne is a Hon., which would indicate her father's a Baron; at various times his title has been mentioned as a baronet (nope, not with that Hon.) and I believe even a duke or an earl has been mentioned in passing. (She wouldn't be an Hon. there either.)


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