Thumbs up for Maestra by L. S. Hilton. Suspense.
This book gets some terrible reviews and I can see why. There is something in here for almost everyone to hate. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: yes, there are sex scenes, and they’re cringeworthy. (Is that what bad girls are calling their genitalia these days? Pass.) But they are short, so let’s move on. Personally, I think that female sociopaths are underrepresented in literature. I think that the author did a spot-on job of catching Judith’s voice, which is simultaneously (and, to me, interestingly) class-obsessed, materialistic, manipulative, and vicious when necessary, but also practical, lacking in cruelty, clever, conscious of the stupidity of revenge, and genuinely appreciative of the beauty and pleasure she directs her ambition towards. She is not a nice person, don’t get me wrong. But she is a good character. If we’re going to laud books about “strong women,” we shouldn’t ignore the fact that “strong” might well include using your beauty to get money from men…or dismembering a corpse in the bathtub.
It wasn’t snobbery that kept me at it. Partly, [studying how to pass as upper-class] was relief at being in an environment where confessing an interest in anything apart from fucking reality shows wasn’t an invitation to a cracked jaw. Mostly, when I had played hooky, it was to get the bus into town to visit the Picton Reading Room at the Central Library, or the Walker Art Gallery, because those quiet spaces breathed something more to me than the beauties they contained. They were civilized. And being civilized meant knowing about the right things. However much people pretend that doesn’t matter, it’s true. Disclaiming that is as foolish as thinking that beauty doesn’t matter. And to get among the right things, you have to be among the people who possess them. Since one also likes to be thorough, knowing the difference between a hereditary and an honorary marquess always comes in handy.
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