The Jewels of Paradise

The Jewels of Paradise

[a Novel]

Book - 2012
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Donna Leon has won heaps of critical praise and legions of fans for her best-selling mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. With The Jewels of Paradise, Leon takes readers beyond the world of the Venetian Questura in her first standalone novel.

Caterina Pellegrini is a native Venetian, and like so many of them, she's had to leave home to pursue her career. With a doctorate in baroque opera from Vienna, she lands in Manchester, England. Manchester, however, is no Venice. When Caterina gets word of a position back home, she jumps at the opportunity.

The job is an unusual one. After nearly three centuries, two locked trunks, believed to contain the papers of a baroque composer have been discovered. Deeply-connected in religious and political circles, the composer died childless; now two Venetians, descendants of his cousins, each claim inheritance. Caterina's job is to examine any enclosed papers to discover the "testamentary disposition" of the composer. But when her research takes her in unexpected directions she begins to wonder just what secrets these trunks may hold. From a masterful writer, The Jewels of Paradise is a superb novel, a gripping tale of intrigue, music, history and greed.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c2012.
ISBN: 9780802120649
Characteristics: 244 p. ;,24 cm.


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Mar 20, 2019

Excellent read from Donna Leon!

ser_library Jun 26, 2015

my first Donna Leon -- love the descriptions, but am bogged down in some details and have trouble keeping minor characters in mind. repetitive with a few grammar infelicities.

Jan 06, 2015

Very good! Intriguing!

Oct 24, 2014

There is some irony in the number of negative comments here. The cataloguing system used by public libraries are in themselves a catalogue of error. A textless picture book of Princess Diana's travels is deemed History. An academic history of the Revolutions of 1848 is put on the Travel shelves. A work on the economy of the mediaeval city-state winds up in Sociology of the Family. And, the relevance here, an astonishing number of crime novels are catalogued as General Fiction, even when the publisher has printed the words 'Crime Fiction' or similar on the back cover. That too is a point worth noting, for only public libraries and ignorant book chains use the outdated sobriquet 'Mysteries'. Much crime fiction ceased to be mysteries at least since Ruth Rendell's Judgement in Stone identified the villain in the first sentence. But, the irony, the commenters of negativity here seem to have missed the detail that Jewels of Paradise is catalogued as general fiction, and for once the cataloguers got it right. It is a most common thing that when a writer of a beloved series dares to essay something very different, readers are disappointed because the book is not like the series. Well, it is not supposed to be. This is work for those who like to savour description of geographical context, development of character, and the way and byways of research. The denouement is not surprising, but that is part of the point -- this is not a 'mystery' or crime novel any more than is Hugo's Les Miserables or Dickens' Oliver Twist.

Sep 30, 2013

This is a book to slow down with. It's not going to race along, so don't expect it to. Take your time and enjoy the buildings of Venice that Leon describes so lovingly. Appreciate the complaints about Venice, and Italy, she has the main character list. I even got out a map of Venice to see about the routes she took walking, but then I do that for Brunetti, too. I've never been to Italy, nor studied Italian, and I love being able to learn so much when I read her books. This one is about 85% about Italian culture, so if you don't want to read about that, don't read the book. Another thing I loved was the email correspondence between the protagonist and her sister; how wonderful it would be to have such a relationship with a sibling! If you want a mystery that speeds along and is weak on character development, read Agatha Christie. But if you want to feel as if you're visiting parts of Venice, read Leon.

Sep 11, 2013

Donna Leon's first stand -alone novel takes a while to get going but I'm glad I've read it.All along the way it dealt with moral dilemmas and the end was fitting.It lacks the light touch of her Brunetti series and the food isn't worth investigating.However,the book gives a fascinating insight into the esoteric topic of early C18 Italian baroque music and the covolutions of the Roman Catholic church at the time.

tleslie Jun 06, 2013

This is very slow 250 page character study with little payoff. To say that the "surprise ending" is foreshadowed is an understatement. Please return to Guido.

6ATE4are Jun 01, 2013

This novel was very slow to get going. Because I have read many of Donna Leon's books, I stuck with it. It took about 80 pages before the plot developed any energy! From there on in, it was up to her usual standard and I did not want to put it down. The story concludes with a satisfying twist.

norden May 12, 2013

Tedious and pedantic. Lots of info. But a story that does not come close to ms.Leons Guido books. A very disappointing ending. I lost imterest after two chapters. Stil,, Ms Leon is a superb writer....

branch_reviews Apr 29, 2013

The setting in Leon’s new book is still Venice, just as in the author’s well-loved Commissario Guido Brunetti detective stories. In this standalone novel, a musicologist, Caterina Pellegrini, who has specialized in Baroque Opera, jumps at the chance of leaving dreary Manchaster behind to return to her native Venice. She is offered a temporary job that involves scouring through two ancient trunks of papers that supposedly belonged to a seventeenth century Italian Baroque composer, diplomat and bishop Steffani. Two of his rather greedy descendants are making a stake for the inheritance and hope to claim “The Jewels of Paradise” hidden by the composer. The actual jewels themselves, retrieved in the end, come as a bit of a surprise. The plot unfolds slowly and gets a bit lost in a book is full of historical detail, musical research, the details of Steffani’s life and the reality and challenges of present day Venice. Readers who pick up Leon’s new offering might miss the detective Guido Brunetti and his wife’s cooking and the other familiar characters that people the author’s previous series. Reviewed by KB

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