My Life in Books: Burn Marks
In 1989, I had a job working in a book shop in Central London. I was there for two years. Although I loved being around books all day, I wasn’t so fond of dealing with customers. However, that job was where I really began to build up my own personal library. Before then, I’d largely acquired my books from the library. With this job, not only was I around books all day and therefore just about every day I’d come across at least I wanted to read, we also got a staff discount, so we were able to buy them at a reasonable price. And so this is when I started buying books instead of borrowing them – a habit I still continue. Like all book shops, ours used to have signing sessions with authors. Most of them were lovely. A few of them weren’t so lovely. I’m not naming any names. Suffice to say that since the shop was in Westminster, most of our most notorious “authors” were politicians… And then Sara Paretsky came to see us, for a signing session of her new release BURN MARKS. Up to then, I hadn’t heard of her, or her books. But she came, she was lovely, and I liked the sound of her kick-ass character V.I. Warshawski. So I bought the book, and had her sign it. Andthen I read it, and my life was changed. V.I. Warshawski remains my premier example of a tough female heroine. She’s smart, she’s outspoken, she knows her own mind and she’s not afraid to voice her opinion – even though doing so often makes enemies. Over the years she’s had many lovers, but none of them have made her happy enough to want to give up her independence for them, and she’s still single, preferring instead the company of her friends and her dogs. Daughter of an Italian singer and a Polish cop – both immigrants to the US – V.I. is an orphan, but her fierce love for her parents shapes her personality, and her desire to speak up for the underdog, especially oppressed women, colours her actions. This is not the first book in the series. If you’ve never read any of Sara Paretsky’s novels, start with the first one, INDEMNITY ONLY, which introduces us to V.I. After I read BURN MARKS I started the series from the beginning. I’ve read them all, and in my opinion Sara Paretsky has not written a bad V.I. Warshawski novel yet. Yes, I am a hardcore Sara Paretsky fangirl. And proud of it. There aren’t enough V.I. Warshawskis in the world, in my opinion. As long as Sara Paretsky keeps on writing books about her, I shall keep on flying the flag declaring her the best fictional heroine ever.