Having discovered Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries through acorntv this year, I’m now a devotee… and as I wait impatiently for the third series, I have some thoughts and questions about the mutual address habits existing between Phryne and Jack in the show. (I can’t comment on the books, because they’re annoyingly hard to find in US libraries, so I’ve only read the first. Any tips on ferreting them out gratefully received.) Anyway:
Phryne, true to her nature, calls Jack anything she feels like: “Inspector Robinson,” “Inspector,” “Jack.” As far as I can see, there’s no clear guiding principle other than whim behind her choice. Some of her most intimate, vulnerable confessions have ended with a soft-voiced “…Inspector.”
With D.I. Robinson himself, it’s a different story. She is Miss Fisher: whether in wry amusement, respect, desire, or (perhaps most often) exasperation. Except. Except. When her life is in danger, when he is in mortal fear for her: Phryne. Phryne, bellowed down a dark ship’s deck like a command to the universe: not her, not this, not now. Phryne, shouted as a soldier might shout a comrade’s name in battle: I’m here, I’m coming, I’m here. Phryne, hoarsely murmured, giving reassurance and seeking it.
Does he realize he’s doing this? Does she? Will either of them ever acknowledge it? And when might the moment come when, deliberately, she invites him to call her Phryne, or, unthinkingly, at ease, he simply does so?