Peter Tremayne’s series character Sister Fidelma, the Irish religious/lawyer, resonates with women today because she is so
contemporary. She’s a working Mom, is a college graduate, is a professional working in a field dominated by men, she argues with
passion for equality between men and women and her husband is a partner, not the dominant breadwinner. Yes, she lives in the 7th
century but she could time-travel to our times and feel right at home.
Tremayne’s research in Celtic history is meticulous. Irish laws at that time did give women rights that are contemporary with ours.
Fidelma is a lawyer by training and preference. She uses her training to solve crimes that threaten the fabric of society, including
the church communities. At this time there were two main churches; the Irish and the Roman. Fidelma first met her husband-to-be, Brother
Eadulf, when each represented the respective churches in an investigation of murder during a major religious conference. Brother
Eadulf is by birth a Saxon — think savage barbarian here — who lived in Rome for several years and is a member of the Roman church when he
meets his fate in the enchanting red-haired beauty Fidelma. You’ll notice that Eadulf follows Fidelma to Ireland — she does not follow
him. The one time she visits Eadulf’s homeland she turns up her nose at it. Sister Fidelma is clearly the leader in this relationship. She
is also the leader in their investigations, but then she is known for her brilliant mind and is the one who is asked to investigate crimes.
Tremayne doesn’t spend much time describing Fidelma. He notes she has green eyes and red hair, which of course means she has a somewhat
shrewish temper. As a character she is saved by her sense of humor. We also learn that she bathes more often than Eadulf is used to.
Fidelma doesn’t seem to worry about her appearance, although she is the sister of the King of Cashel. As a religious she wears a sort of
cassock, anyhow. I’m waiting to find out what she wears when she renounces the religious part of her life and becomes strictly a secular
lawyer. Another thing about Fidelma – she has a baby but is hardly a stay-at-home Mom to little Alchu. Fidelma wasn’t cut out to be a
mother. As Marie Barone of the Everybody Loves Raymond television show would say: “She’s a mother but she’s not mother-ish.”
We know what Eadulf looks like. He is described as having brown eyes and brown hair which he wears cut in the tonsure of Rome style. Eadulf
is stocky and powerful in build. He is mild and easy-going in nature and devoted to Fidelma. He is intelligent but isn’t quite as quick and
sharp as Fidelma, who puts all the pieces of the puzzle together and then, usually in assembly, announces the solution in her best lawyer’s
Sister Fidelma is a strong woman, there’s no doubt about that. She can take care of herself, not only intellectually but physically, as
she is a practitioner of a form of Irish martial arts. Fidelma is a feminist of the first order.
M. E. Kemp‘s latest book, due soon from L&L Dreamspell, is DEATH OF A CAPE COD CAVALIER. When the popular Charlie Pierce is found floating on the Bay with a knife in his back, Hetty and Creasy are called in to investigate. The little town of Billingsgate (Wellfleet) is famous for its oysters, not for murder, but one bad shellfish can ruin the digestion of everyone. Hetty’s trick of dressing up Creasy as a ghost backfires when it frightens everyone but the murderer. Website http://mekempmysteries.com/