22 toukokuuta, 2014

Kari Selén: Madame

Madame - Minna Craucherin levoton elämä (2010)
Kari Selén
Helsinki-kirjat, 2010
232 sivua

GR: 4/5 tähteä

Who was Minna Craucher? Was she a spy for Cheka, a member of the nobility, a daughter of a German engineer, a brothel owner, a bootlegger or an abortionist?

She was none of the above as far as we can tell.

She was a colourful woman who reinvented herself after being born to a young, unwed mother and who also turned to the oldest profession in the world when she was just 16. Her character can be recognized in the novels of at least Joel Lehtonen, Martti Merenmaa and Mika Waltari. (While reading Suuri illusioni and the description of Mrs Spindel's salon I felt I had to read this first.) After a few visits and years in prison she started a new life but her past would always be a problem for her.

She wasn't exactly a nice woman. Making friends was her way of finding people to use and also to blackmail if necessary. I thought using a "bottled fetus" for blackmailing purposes was particularly interesting... It wasn't really a surprise then that she was murdered by one of her acquaintances in the Lapua Movement after they had released her from their service and she had started talking (and telling stories) to the newspapers. Lying was a second nature to her.

Her earlier connection to the Tulenkantajat literary group was less dramatic (though maybe not for Olavi Paavolainen) but still interesting. Her salon served as a convenient meeting place for not-so-rich young authors and journalists during the days of the prohibition. Her personal input was probably less significant, she had hardly had any education.

This biography was well researched and probably used as many facts than can be found about the subject, there are not that many left. Maybe some chapters about her business matters were too detailed but I suppose that can't be helped in a book like this about a character like hers.

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