There are many reasons to choose a novel to read. It may be for purely entertainment, to immerse oneself in an historical time period or a journey into the future. I choose books for all of those reasons and more.
I have been thinking recently about how novels can inform about issues of the day, and touch our hearts and minds in ways that non-fiction or a news article cannot do. A good novelist who conscientiously researches her subject can make a connection that doesn’t always happen with non-fiction. This will be the first in a series of blog posts where I bring to light a novel that has touched me and informed me at the same time.
Author Elizabeth George touched my mind and heart in her latest novel, Something to Hide, in which she deals with the troubling issue of FGM, or female genital mutilation. I give tremendous credit to George for tackling such a difficult subject.
As horrifying as the practice of FGM is to those of us in Western cultures, it is a crucial part of the cultures of around thirty countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Proponents of the practice, including parents of the girls, claim that it “purifies” the girl and makes her “valuable” to her husband. The crux of the problem is the devaluation of a girl as little more than a commodity, and her value as a “marriageable” female far outweighs recognition of her as an individual. Not to mention the life-long physical and medical difficulties it creates for her.
In Something to Hide, author George uses her familiar characters who work for London’s Metropolitan Police to conduct an investigation into a suspicious death. This investigation leads to discovering of a clinic performing illegal FGM procedures. The Metropolitan Police work to close down the clinic as well as solve the suspicious death.
I have enjoyed Elizabeth George’s novels for many years. I so admire her ability, as an American, to delve into the culture of Britain as it is today, as well as her knowledge of the workings of the police in London.
Something to Hide is #21 in her Inspector Lynley series, but they don’t necessarily have to be read in order. I highly recommend this book, all 704 pages of it!