Blanche on the Lam is written by Barbara Neely and published in February of 1993. This first of the series introduces us to Blanche White, our main character, who is employed as a maid.
This is not “Maid in Manhattan”
This is not a typical maid’s tale. There are no rags to riches to be found in Blanche on the Lam. This simply is not that story. But it is actually a far better tale and loads more entertaining.
I have read comparisons between Blanche on the Lam and the movie “The Help” as well. Admittedly I have never had an interest in watching “The Help” (sorry Octavia Spencer- it is nothing personal). But I can say that I would compare this book to one of Tyler Perry’s “Madea” movies. Because it is simply a real riot.
As a result I now have an excuse to use some Madea gifs in order to express my thoughts on this novel.
Blanche Goes to Jail… at least she is supposed to
Easily the best opening chapter I have ever read ever is in this book! I literally laughed out loud at the mental image of Blanche sneaking out of the bathroom of the courthouse on the heels of her conviction for writing bad checks.
A grand opening indeed. It was a pretty funny way for her to happen upon the family that she comes to work for in this novel. A real unsavory bunch of characters for the most part. See Blanche works for an agency that supplies temporary maids to the wealthier members of her town.
She arrives at the home of Grace and Everett completely out of sorts and is put to work immediately preparing lunch. To her credit she seems to prepare an awesome spread wherever she goes. The food being mostly classic American cuisine but heavy on vegetables and salads.
Blanche also meets Grace’s cousin, Mumsford, who has a form of Down Syndrome. Despite her desire to not get close to her employers Blanche finds herself with a strong connection to Mumsford. Their friendship is truly sweet.
Don’t Underestimate Blanche
This novel is scored throughout with an undertone of issues related to racial and gender discrimination. To Blanche’s employers she is rarely invisible until she can be used as a pawn in their sinister games. She is is not taken seriously due to her dark skin and job title. Naturally, she is in fact, the smartest person in the house.
Along the way she meets and utilizes various people who become her allies and provide her with information to get her out of the trap in which she finds herself ensnared. She is not one to be trapped and we witness her struggle to survive the things put in place to frame her.
There is true comedic gold at the beginning of this story. Ultimately I loved that Blanche simply refused to be a victim of the powers that be. She used everything that was against her in order to solve the crime and get herself out of a precarious situation. Blanche used her invisibility to her favor and trusted her instincts.
Overall this was a great read. I enjoyed the fact that Blanche was so self-assured and yet smart enough to know when to step into the shadows. There are three additional books in the series and I will be reviewing them in the future.