How I first came to read ‘Anna Blanc’: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in  as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction. I received a complimentary copy of “The Secret Life of Anna Blanc” direct from the publisher Seventh Street Books (an imprint of Prometheus Books) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared therein. This selection marked my ‘first’ choice of novels from Prometheus Books – which is why being able to listen and review the audiobook was such a sweet blessing!
How I acquired this Digital Audiobook and my connection to the author: Jennifer Kincheloe
I remained in touch with the author – as I had hoped this would turn into a series – where this would only be the first installment of Anna Blanc’s life. When I caught sight of the audiobook being published on Twitter, I reached out directly to the author, to ask if she were seeking reviews on it’s behalf. Blessed to say, she was and I offered to re-read this novel via the audiobook in exchange for an honest review in December 2016, thinking I would post my ruminations on behalf of the narrator’s vocalisation of Anna Blanc in January 2017.
Except to say, I couldn’t get motivated to re-listen to this title – I was still adjusting to my father’s recovery from his stroke as he was just getting through his recovery period at home. I struggled with finding the inspiration to read in mid to late December and throughout January; although I did find a few stories which took hold. Sadly, this story I pushed forward to listen too, as I wanted to be in a better frame of mind to listen to Anna’s story for the second time, as became such a dear joy of mine the first time round! I had mentioned to the author about possibly contacting the Audiobookworm about promoting the audiobook, too. Turns out whilst I had a few months of a reader’s rut to trudge through, this audiobook and story made it into Audiobookworm Promotions!
I requested to be an ‘additional’ reviewer and to interview the narrator originally as I didn’t want to affect the blog tour – yet at the same time, I was so inspired by the narrator’s take on Anna Blanc, I was wicked excited about setting up a conversation with her about her performance. This conversation ended up being canncelled on my end, as I simply couldn’t pull it together on a short deadline. I also remained on the blog tour to be a ‘second time reader’ of the novel.
Therefore, I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “The Secret Life of Anna Blanc” via the author Jennifer Kencheloe in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein nor for recommending her to use Audiobookworm Promotions for publicity for this title or series.
What I initially loved about the story of ‘Anna Blanc’ – quoted from my original review of the print edition:
Anna Blanc is self-assured and a women who doesn’t take kindly to be ‘put in place’ by her controlling father – as soon as she announces her presence on the scene, you want to know more about her as she’s a formidable woman straight from the gate! Her cheeky cleverness to hide whilst attempting to flee by rail and to be fashionable even though necessity dictates that to be a difficulty when trying to outfox someone from finding out your whereabouts – Anna Blanc has a charm about her that lends well to become entranced by a character you can tell is going to surprise you at each new turning of her story! How can you not help but smile when things go her way? She has this curious aplumb about her that delights the expectation of where she’s about to take you on her adventure!
Kincheloe has this cheeky sense of humour threading through her ink, as right when you think Anna Blanc has mastered the art of deceiving her father for the goodwill of her future, he pulls back twice as strong as before – leaving Anna with a shattered bit of hope and a firm displeasure of injustice. When she meets up with the Suffragettes, I was not too shocked to find her winning a wink towards their cause – as their cause was her cause!
The best attribute Anna Blanc has within her is a self-motivating resolve to become self-educated as it was such a joy to watch her expand her mind in a fervent attempt to understand the underpinnings of motives and causes of the crimes that were leeching through her city at such a fast rate of alarm. She did not just want to sleuth for the sake of detection but to fully understand the methodology behind the crimes and I think this is a nod to the writer’s (Kincheloe) curiosity being piqued by true crime stories straight out of the historical archives from whence she draws her inspirations. Kincheloe also under-writ a stunning historical survey of early Forensic techniques which inspired Anna with her investigating – especially in regards to understanding the differences between murder and suicide. This became quite pivotal in the story as Anna Blanc made her transition from socialite to female detective.
The beauty of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc are the little bits of plot your not expecting to find encircle through the evolving story – there were little clues fluttering through it’s context, but the joy was not completely sorting it all out until the very last chapter – wherein, your heart swoons with glee and you champion the success Anna Blanc had in closing her second case! This is a bit of a guilty pleasure for historical fiction readers – Kincheloe has tempted us with her wicked sweet prose where a heroine peppers the scenes with her feisty personality and a penchant for seeking out the truth from a sea of lies!
Sophisticated in her ascertainment of conception behind Anna Blanc, Kincheloe has writ such a lively character, you drink in her words with such a joy of delight! She has a fast paced narrative, where the humour is smitten by the sophisticated edging of her character’s personality, matched equally brilliantly by the grace of a Cosy Historical Mystery backdrop! She’s captured the turn of the century atmosphere aptly, as she tucks in recognisable familiarities to alight in your imagination as you turn the pages; replete with gaslights and other bits which correlate with the era.
I loved the way in which Kincheloe turnt a phrase, using words not oft found in historical fiction as her novel is a good primer of words that are wicked to say aloud and used in descriptive narratives such as this one! The phrases themselves are a delight for readers who love words as much as wordsmiths, which Kincheloe definitely excels at including whilst giving Anna Blanc a crafty choice of words to express her emotional duress! She also found a clever way to include Anna’s religious background by having her talk to the Saints when a mood or a moment fitted the hour; it was quite an interesting way to thread faith inside a mainstream novel and I liked the author’s candor.
I found this unputdownable – I read it straight through in one sitting!
I found it deliciously refreshing as Anna Blanc is a heroine who made her mark on the world on her own terms whilst owning the truth of her heart. I cannot wait to see what Ms Kincheloe will give us to devour next when this novel’s sequel is released – with a bit of hope, she won’t leave us in suspense too long!
It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels—but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals.
Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself.
If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding and stop pouring money into her father's collapsing bank. Midway into her investigation, the police chief's son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity. And shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail.
Anna must choose—either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.
Places to find the book:
Published by Jennifer R. Kincheloe Ltd
on 14th November, 2016
Format: Audiobook | Digital
Length: 12 hours 44 minutes (unabridged)
(Audiobook) Published By: the author herself
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook and Audiobook
Converse via: #SecretLifeOfAnnaBlancRead More
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge