Thursday, February 6, 2020

Audiobook Review: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe

Anna didn't like children. Her greatest fear was that her prayers would get crossed with some other Catholics. Anna would get pregnant without even asking and some other woman would get a motorcycle or permission to play flag football.

I've got a new heroine addiction in the form of one Anna Blanc -- socialite, heiress, adventurer, crime fighter.

Set in 1907 Los Angeles, our heroine Anna is the daughter of a French banker and is known for being a charming, beautiful socialite. But she wants more than all that. She wants to be a police detective. Her reputation is already borderline ruined from an impetuous decision she makes in the first chapter, but she manages to juggle a handsome, wealthy suitor and a position as a police matron -- the closest thing to being a police detective she can manage. But wrangling orphans into orphanages isn't the work she wants to do, and with guts, moxie, and obliviousness, she gets to work solving murders and other crimes.

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe; audiobook narrated by Moira Quirk
Jennifer Kincheloe, 2016
Review copy for blog tour
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

With an intriguing mix of naivete and grit, Kincheloe presents a young woman who will do anything to achieve her goal; but things aren't easy as there are lumps and bumps along the way. Somehow both slightly fantastical and incredibly realistic, I hung on every word of this story because I was/am infatuated with Anna and would follow her to the ends of the earth. (Imagine a less sexually experienced Tahani from The Good Place, all good intentions, societal connections, and lack of real world skills. See? Impossible to resist.) She's a genuinely imperfect woman both swimming in privilege and bound by society and station, and Kincheloe articulates both worlds vividly and sympathetically.

Kincheloe also does a brilliant job of evoking 1907 Los Angeles and the small tidbits of life at the time (vibrators as treatments for hysteria, for example); the era and setting were as real as Anna. The mysteries were interesting, the side characters compelling, and the will-they-won't-they romance heart flutter-y. (I'm actually wolfing down the rest of the books in the series mostly for Anna and her romantic life; love that she's professionally satisfied but I am enamored of her beau!)

I don't know how I missed this debut back in 2016 but I am soooo glad I was able to join the blog tour for the audiobook as the narrator, Moira Quirk, is smashing.  I'm a total fangirl now and will be searching for other books she reads although I am a little nervous she will forever be Anna Blanc for me. Quirk manages accents and different voices beautifully. Her men sound different from women without any awkward throat straining that makes you want to cough in sympathy; she manages to be Anna in all her ridiculous, competent glory. Having finished this listen, I already "miss" both Anna and Quirk's rendering of her, and I can't wait to listen to the other audiobooks.


  1. Thanks for sharing you thoughts on the book. It sounds good

  2. A terrific review, I might add this to my wishlist. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Hallo, Hallo Audra,

    I've been positively elated over this whole series - ever since I first hand-picked the first novel to request from the publisher when I first started reviewing for them. There was just something wicked special about Anna Blanc! I had to bow out of hosting my review for this blog tour - as initially I thought the review copies were through Audible and then, realising they weren't - I had hoped to get Scribd back by Feb but it looks like it will be March instead. Thereby, I didn't have a way to hear the story - though I had already read and loved the novel in print format! I'm hosting the author for an interview instead... ooh my? I'm not the ONLY one who has trouble shifting off certain roles by narrators? I have this issue trying to listen to Alison Campbell narrate ANYONE other than #KayHunter... I'm a lost cause... (smirks)

    I am thrilled to bits you've joined the Anna Blanc gush festivity! I wonder how you missed the showcases on my blog? Wow. I am seriously gushing most of the time I'm reviewing these lovelies in print and in audio! Moira Quirk is wicked #awesomesauce as a narrator - she's just has a natural knack for drawing Anna out and for giving us an Anna we shall never forget! The Anna I imprinted to mind before the audiobooks came to life through Quirk's performance and that was such a special day for me to realise!