Thursday, 28 February 2013

Review of 'The Jewels of Paradise' by Donna Leon

The Jewels of ParadiseThe Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is said that Agatha Christie tired of Poirot, and that Conan Doyle wanted, after a time, to kill off Sherlock Holmes. I cannot imagine what induced Donna Leon to write this long winded and meandering novel, The Jewels of Paradise, except perhaps boredom with her highly successful series featuring Venetian detective, Guido Brunetti.

Let me say at the onset that Leon is incapable of writing anything but highly literate, beautifully thought-out prose. That is as true of The Jewels of Paradise as of any other of her previous many books. But a book about a musicologist whose special field is little known composers of Baroque opera? I’m a musician and an opera lover of many years, but even I had trouble caring what happened in this book about said musicologist’s investigation into the life and work of a composer long, for good reason, forgotten.

Ms. Leon seems to have used this book, The Jewels of Paradise, principally as a soap box from which once again to attack her favourite nemeses, the Church and the State. She often takes pot shots at Italy’s institutions through her characters in the Brunetti series, which I applaud when such shots have relevance to the plot. But her opinions have never appeared to be the sole raison-d’ĂȘtre in any of her previous works.

Not that I don’t enjoy her remarks. I do. I enjoyed her cutting comments about politics and religion and food and opera audiences who cheer wildly at bad performances. But this is not sufficient substance for a book. I cannot in good faith give this book less than three stars, because Leon is a brilliant writer who could probably create some interest even in a rewrite of the phone book. But I expect more from her. That’s what happens when an author places the bar so high.



I currently have three published novels and one short story. I hope you will add them to your reading list and let me know if you enjoy them. Go to my Goodreads page, to find more info and reviewsTo purchase one of these books, just click on the book link below and select the vendor of your choice.

 • The Memory of Roses ~ The story of a secret and how it impacts two generations of the McQuaid family.  It unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu and is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

"The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.”  --  Marlene, Reading Reality

 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

"Delighting In Your Company is a unique paranormal romance that brings together island folklore, history, and mystery with an unlikely romance between the past and present that had me going through a torrent of emotions and made it impossible to put down." -- The Romance Reviews

 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find some shocking situations 
~ A robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame;
~ Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; 
~ and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, is a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding the rich and beautiful Sayuri. 

It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

“I found Sonata to be a charming novel that left me laughing out loud in parts and gnawing nails in others. It was a delight to read.” – Night Owl Reviews

 Abigails Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
Abigail's Christmas is a holiday story about Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing! Is it real?  Is she dreaming?  Or is it just Christmas magic?

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Blair McDowell