Friday, 10 July 2015

False Tongues by Kate Charles


published 2015

False Tongues 2


[Callie and Tamsin are attending a conference/reunion for Church of England clergy]

Callie [looked at] the top Tamsin was wearing… It was a sort of T-shirt, periwinkle blue in colour, made of a stretchy jersey fabric, but tailored to Tamsin’s ample figure and topped with a dog collar

‘Speaking of clothes,’ she said firmly, ‘tell me about your . . . um . . . clerical shirt. I’ve never seen anything like it.’

Tamsin struck a pose, arms outstretched and chest thrust forward. ‘Good, isn’t it? One of my False Tongues 1parishioners is in the fashion business, and she designed it for me. I have them in all sorts of colours. Every colour in the rainbow, for every day of the week.’

‘But . . . why?’

‘I can’t wear a normal clerical shirt.’ Tamsin looked down at her chest and gave her blond curls a rueful shake. ‘My boobs are too big. The buttons won’t stay done up over them, and nothing looks more unprofessional than a curate with her boobs hanging out. I have a difficult enough time being taken seriously without that.’

Callie laughed. ‘Well, whatever works for you, I suppose.’



RNS-FASHION-ANGLICAN a


observations: There’s not a great deal to say about this book, but I couldn’t resist the idea of looking at what female clerics wear. I loved the idea of Tamsin’s rainbow of multi-coloured shirts, and it was nice to find out what a college principal wears under her cassock:
Now she went to her bedroom and took it off, hanging it up carefully, contemplating her wardrobe as she stood there in her slip.
And everyone wonders what to wear at a conference – Callie’s decisions are just rather specialized:
Would people be wearing their dog collars and clericals? Or would it be more casual and informal, with the sort of clothes – jeans and sweats – that they’d worn as students? She would hate to be caught out either way, so she’d better be prepared for either eventuality. And maybe she’d need something smart in case they laid on a posh dinner.
Kate Charles writes nice books which are usually linked strongly with the Church of England. A first series took the reader to some very convincing London churches. Then there were a couple of quite gripping standalones. Now this series features Callie Anson, a deacon in a London parish, and her fiancé Marco, who is a policeman.

There are many crime stories that feature major strands about the protagonists’ homelives, and often there are two separate stories which are linked towards the end, but still False Tongues is fairly unusual – though the previous book in the series was similar. Marco is part of an investigation into the death of a teenager in west London, though much of the sleuthing is seen through the eyes of Neville, another regular character. Meanwhile, Callie has gone off to Cambridge for a college reunion, and has various relationship issues to resolve. Other people have problems too, but everything is resolved in what is, it must be said, rather a chicklit manner: apparently Cambridge intellectuals can still have their lives changed by sexy underwear, and can still make a sitcom-style mistake about who was seen kissing whom. The rest of us might find that a bit corny, and in the case of the kissing, all too easy to resolve. This takes up a large part of the book, but has nothing to do with the crime.

Meanwhile series character Jane is also having issues, and as ever is thinking hard about them while she follows her dreary round – more sitcom misunderstandings, and a faint link with the crime.

I’m guessing around half the book is the crime, the rest is unrelated. Both sides are interesting enough in their own ways, but it is a very awkward combination. There are moments when the investigation comes alive, with some real people and real emotions. I liked Lexie and her sister very much, and the book tackled the world of cyber-bullying & social media with gusto. Most of it is an enjoyable read.

And true enough, the internet isn’t overwhelmed with pictures of lovely colourful clerical shirts. But the woman above looks fabulous: she is ‘Camelle Daley, a London-trained fashion designer who founded the label House of ilona, [and] has launched a new range of clerical wear for women in the Church of England.’ The other pictures are from adverts, and actually seem to be unisex, which surprised me.












10 comments:

  1. You know, you're right, Moirsa! There isn't a lot of attention paid to clerical wear for women. This is interesting! And the book sounds enjoyable, too, 'though I know what you mean about stitching a few story strands together. I think that takes some skill. It's an interesting context for a mystery, though.

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    1. Yes, the book was full of fascinating details about contemporary life. And the question of what women priests wear is a perfect one for the blog!

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  2. I have some books by Kate Charles from the first series. Unread of course. I thought I would like them because of the religious setting which seems strange to me since I have no religious affiliation. Hard to tell if I would like stories that combine crime and a heavy does of unrelated content... sometimes it works, sometimes not.

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    1. I like the idea of churches, particularly church communities, as a setting. Kate Charles is very good on the details of modern life, and perhaps churches are a good way to see them.

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  3. Moira: I am surprised. In Canada I have never seen clerical shirts worn by men or women in any colours but black or purple. Within the Catholic Church it is only black. And here I thought in an ever changing world that there were still no colours for clerics other than black.

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    1. It's the same for Catholic priests here, Bill, with the occasional sober grey as a variation. But then there's no women... I don't see enough clerics from other denominations to see how common the rainbow colours are.

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  4. Hmm, I doubt I'll be following you in reading this author. Neither can I offer any up-to-date commentary on my local clergy's attire.

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    1. Fair enough, I think this one will pass you right by....

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  5. Clerical outfitters are fascinating - particularly those in Rome (there's a lovely cluster around the Pantheon). Though, all rather dull for the ladies' side of things.

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    1. Unfortunately no need for women's shirts in RC church....

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