Monday, 28 January 2013

The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon

The book cover says "A gripping tale of Intrigue, Music and Obsession." Granted this book is about Music but a gripping tale of Intrigue and obsession it is not. It is more like the leisurely walk you take to your favourite place, stand on the bridge, watch the stream rambling, the boats floating by, the birds flying, enjoy the time with no care just stand and stare, see "in broad daylight Streams full of stars, like skies at night". (I am quoting from William Henry Davies' poem Leisure). Looking at the statues of angels, wonder how do the angels get dressed without causing damage to their feathers. Forget about the Twitter and Facebook obsessions travel back to a different time, holding the mundane correspondence of a great musician, wondering what 'treasure' lies hidden among his possessions. By all this I mean, it takes forever for the rambling stream to get to the hidden treasure. But all research is like that, isn't it? You find things in serendipity that you won't find in breaking your heads over it. Right! Now to the story!

When Caterina finds an offer for research work in her home town Venice, she decides to take the plunge without doing much research about this new work. Caterina is a musicologist specialising in baroque opera. Don't worry, I don't know anything about music too, nor am I familiar with the names the story tells me, but that did not get in the way of enjoying this book. Two chests containing the papers of Steffani a famous musician is discovered by his descendants referred to as the cousins. Caterina's work involves reading the documents in the chests in various languages to see if Steffani has left a Will or any inclination to which of the Cousins he wants his estate to be given. There is also a vague mention of a treasure. What does Caterina discover? Caterina works involves reading the background of the famous musician to make sense of the documents. What will Caterina discover about this musician?

I liked the interactions between Caterina and her sister Lina-Tina via email. There isn't much mystery, you actually know where this rambling stream is going, but it is a relaxing laid back journey.

1 comment:

Gilion Dumas said...

I enjoy her Commissario Brunetti series, so I definitely want to give this one a try. Thanks for the review! Sounds like a great Italy choice for the European Reading Challenge.

Rose City Reader