Monday, 10 June 2013

J is for The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon

This is my post for Letter J for Crime Fiction Alphabet 2013

Leisure by William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

Is it a good thing if a crime novel set in present times reminds you of this poem! Here is something that is not rushed or fast paced, where the protagonist looks at the statues of angels in her hometown, Venice, and muses how do angels get dressed without causing damage to their feathers. Here is somebody who loves to stand and stare and enjoy the small pleasures of life. 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? Is there really a treasure?

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.


TracyK said...

This a nice review of a book that sounds interesting. I have only read a little Donna Leon. Thanks for the review.

srivalli said...

I don't usually enjoy slow-paced books. This was an exception. Thanks Tracy for stopping by!

Tadi Hano said...

Lovely blog. Please follow mine, it's new: