Caterina Pellegrini is a young Venetian musicologist hired by two competing cousins to find the truthful heir to an alleged treasure concealed by a once-famous, but now almost forgotten, baroque composer. Sworn to secrecy, Caterina can solve the mystery only by searching through the papers contained in the composer's two chests that have not been opened for centuries. As she delves into all quarters of his life, from professional to personal, she is drawn into one of the most scandalous affairs of the baroque era. When her research takes her in unexpected directions, she begins to wonder what dark secrets these chests hold and just whom can she trust?
©2012 Donna Leon and Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich (P)2012 Random House AudioGo
"Donna Leon's skill with intrigue, clues and suspicion and suspense means that even the most ardent Brunetti devotee ought to find this book a good read." (Jessica Mann, Literary Review )
"a splendid mystery surrounding the inheritance of an obscure baroque composer... Full of authentic details and wittily recounted (Caterina's sojourn at a British university with its badly dressed scholars is a joy), Leon's 22nd novel has a freshness which indicates her delight in the subject." (Jane Jakeman, Independent)
"a fascinating study of greed, folly and how the most Machiavellian plots ultimately come to naught." (Guardian)
"Written with all Leon's elegant delicacy combined with her ability to reveal the truth almost without your noticing, this is a little gem of a book, immersed as it is in Leon's own love for the baroque." (Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail)
"[it has] all the ingredients of a zippy historical mystery in an intriguing new genre...Leon seamlessly interweaves the Italian cultural heritage into her story, and hasn't lost her feeling for everydaylife." (The Spectator)
"Jewels of Paradise demonstrates the author's deep understanding of Venice, and is an entertaining work that questions the changing values of life over the ages. Like life, it makes you wait to the end to understand the plot." (Selected by Lord Browne (former Chief Executive of BP) as his summer read in the Financial Times)
As a big fan of Donna Leon I have to say that I found this audiobook very disappointing. The plot moved along painfully slowly and then fizzled out completely. The use of Italian accents for all the characters by the narrator was irritating and unnecessary.
"A good start, but hope for more"
This new book by Donna Leon has an intriguing and unusual theme of baroque opera. We get glimpses of life in and around European courts, some scandalous historical characters and social history of the times. The pace is gentle, but not boring, the ending is satisfying, but not earth shattering, and it is an enjoyable book worth listening to, although somehow felt a little flat and incomplete.
The main character, Caterina Pellegrini, is likeable and could be interesting, but I need to know more to understand her better, there are many gaps in her background and loose ends were left unsatisfied. Apart from Caterina herself, most of the present day characters were only lightly touched on and left little impression. Some of her family and friends were introduced, but so briefly. I want to know more about her sister who is a nun, more about her kind brother-in-law and definitely more of the drunken Romanian academic.
If, on the other hand, this is meant as the first of a series, where Caterina has future mysteries to solve, possibly in and around her specialty world of music and opera, this would be a good introductory book. We can look forward to the development of the characters of family and friends, their relationships and interaction. I hope my curiosity will be satisfied and look forward to hearing more about Caterina Pellegrini’s world in the future.
I found that the narrator’s gentle but strong Irish accent very distracting when she read various characters with strong Italian accents and also that the sound quality was not clear, making this audio hard to listen to, but not enough to stop me wanting to finish the story.
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