My thoughts are muddled and cobbled together this Monday. As so often happens to me, I’ve ended up with more questions than answers, and they’re all sort of blending together, and I’m letting them. I finished reading In The Market for Murder by T.E. Kinsey last night. On the cover, there’s a lady in a long coat with a maid in a long black dress and white apron. I’ve read so many Regency mysteries and romances lately that my mind went right to that period of history. But I was wrong. The first book in the series takes place in 1908, and this–the second book–is shortly after. For whatever reason, that date caught me off guard. Lady Hardcastle and her husband were spies, and when her husband was killed, she retired to the English countryside with her maid–who traveled with her before she made it safely home. The maid knows martial arts, and both ladies are quite capable of taking care of themselves. But men constantly worry about their delicate sensibilities.
For me, the time period in this book feels a lot like the social niceties of the Regencies and Lady Darby mysteries that I read. Except in this book, Lady Hardcastle decides to buy an automobile. And that scene, in itself, made for an amusing read. The salesman couldn’t fathom a woman buying a car by herself, with no husband, no chauffeur, and no mechanic.
For some reason, I read that scene and it triggered thoughts about my grandmother–how many changes she saw in her lifetime. She grew up on a farm and lived through World War I. When the men came home from fighting, she went to barn dances by horse and buggy. She met and married my grandfather sometime during the Roaring Twenties. Men whistled at her legs when she wore her flapper dresses, and she cut her hair in a bob. Grandpa became a truck driver, and they moved to Chicago. A gangster tried to hire him to run alcohol from Canada to a bar, but Grandpa turned him down. One of his friends took the job and was shot dead on one of his trips. Then came the Great Depression, and they lost everything, including their home. They had to move back to live in a small worker’s shack near her mom. And then came World War II and both of her sons were drafted. Thankfully, both of them returned.
All of those memories, along with the books I’ve read lately, made me think about war and wars since today’s Memorial Day. My husband put out the flag on our front porch. Usually, a small neighborhood parade goes down our street, so loud you can’t sleep through it even if you wanted to. Which we don’t. We like seeing our neighbors and former neighbors who often return to see the high school band, an old train engine changed over to celebrate veterans, and all of the other groups that participate in the parade. We visit on the side of the street and people marching by throw candy to the kids. We linger for a while once it’s over, and then we all retreat to our homes and whatever our plans are for the day. But not this year. Covid19 put a stop to the celebration. Maybe it will return next year. Maybe not. Things have changed.
But we’ll always honor the men and women who served our country and lost their lives to protect us and our freedom. And that led me to think about the nature of war. It’s always been with us. All you have to do is read the history books we were taught growing up. We jump from the The French and Indian War to the Revolution to the War of 1812 and so on. History is full of wars. Every country fought them, all the way back to the Romans, the Egyptians, even the cavemen. And wars changed mindsets and attitudes. They brought back new ideas and products. But at such a high cost. Are we forever destined to fight them? Maybe. There’s always someone who wants to dominate, plunder, or subjugate. Maybe it’s part of the human condition.
When I was young and idealistic, and wondered if we’d ever get tired of wars, I read The Devil and the Good Lord by Jean-Paul Sartre. And it made me think that wars will always be with us, that if you’re too idealistic, you’re vulnerable. But there will always be strong, honorable people who do the right thing, who respect one another. And I can’t help but hope that there will always be more of them than angry, disgruntled people who are willing to trample their fellow man to get what they want.
See? I warned you that my mind was rambling today. And I might be able to add up clues to solve mysteries, but I can’t begin to fathom the mystery of Destiny or mankind. I hope you had a wonderful three-day weekend, and happy Memorial Day.