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The Jewels of Paradise Hardcover – 4 Oct 2012

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The Jewels of Paradise + The Golden Egg: (Brunetti 22) + Beastly Things: (Brunetti 21)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann; 1st ed edition (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434022276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434022274
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.8 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 135,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Donna Leon has lived in Venice for many years and previously lived in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China, where she worked as a teacher. Her previous novels featuring Commissario Brunetti have all been highly acclaimed; including Friends in High Places, which won the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, Through A Glass, Darkly, Suffer the Little Children, The Girl of His Dreams, and most recently, About Face.

Product Description


"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)

"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." (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 everyday life" (Spectator)

"Splendid … a fascinating historical mystery. Full of authentic details and wittily recounted ... Leon’s 22nd novel has a freshness which indicates her delight in the subject" (Jane Jakeman Independent)

"Fans of Leon’s work will find much to enjoy here, particularly her elegant descriptions of day-to-day Venetian life and the city’s architectural wonders, and Caterina makes for an enjoyably irreverent companion for the tour." (Irish Times)

Book Description

From the bestselling author of the Brunetti crime series comes The Jewels of Paradise, a gripping tale of intrigue, music, history and greed and Donna Leon’s first stand-alone novel.

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Suzette A. Hill on 6 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I felt slightly 'betrayed' by this novel in that it did not live up to expectations. Having read the blurb I thought it had a fanastic potential for mystery, intrigue and scholarly skulduggery. As it turned out I have to admit to becoming just a trifle bored. I respect Donna Leon, adore Venice, am familiar with the mechanics of literaryy/historical research and have a particular penchant for Baroque music. "Just up my street," I thought. It wasn't. Patiently and indulgently I waited for an excitement, a frisson - something one could really get one's teeth into. Alas, nothing emerged: the stalker proved a limp red herring, the possible love interst - the suave lawyer - melted vaguely into obscure shadows, the villains were ill-defined, and the subject of Caterina's painstaking research proved ultimately of little tangible interest. Much of Caterina's scholarly labours were punctuated by not very inspiring meals; and each time she went out to a bistro or bar one assumed that "something" would happen when she returned to her academic pursuits. Nothing did - either intellectually or physically. It is always a pleasure to read about Venice, especially by one as knowledgeable as Donna Leon - hence the three stars. However, on the whole I have to say: tremendous possibilities but a bit of a damp squib . . . There are other of this author's books both more gripping and,indeed, more subtle and edgy.
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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always thought it must be difficult for established authors famous for a particular series character or genre, to break out of the mould and write something different. What should they do? Hope their fans will stay with them even though the book is different? Or do they branch out under another name and hope the book will stand on its own and gain them a following?

Ruth Rendell wrote as Barbara Vine and did well with her stand alone thrillers after her success with the Wexford series; Agatha Christie wrote novels under the pen name of Mary Westmacott and did not do as well; P D James wrote a Jane Austen spin off under her usual name with mixed results. In the case of Donna Leon she has given her fans - and maybe new readers as well - something different from her hugely successful Guido Brunetti series in The Jewels of Paradise.

Here is Venice again in all her glory, corruption and Machiavellian complexity. It is Caterina Pelligrini's home city. She is a young musicologist and has been offered a job she cannot resist as she is feeling homesick for La Serenissima. Perhaps because she is homesick she doesn't ask as many questions as she should have done about the job itself.

She is tasked with examining all the documents in two locked trunks under strict conditions. Before she accepts the job she does not know who the trunks belonged to just that the whole thing is surrounded by secrecy. She has been told the former owner of the trunks comes within her field of expertise which is baroque composers and music.

The writing is subtle and understated and recognisably Leon's style and Venice is Brunetti's Venice. Caterina herself could easily be someone Brunetti encountered in the course of his work. He would remember her if they had met.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bookwyrm on 10 July 2013
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to read this book because it was NOT a Brunetti novel (all of which I love in varying degrees) and felt I needed a change. I also love Venice, mysteries, Baroque music and historical research, and thought that all four combined in one book would make a fascinating story. I was so wrong.

I didn't try and compare it to Ms Leon's previous books, but I did find it incredibly hard to read more than a few pages without setting it aside and going off to do something less laborious. Generally I read a novel quickly, especially one that grabs my attention, and wouldn't normally bother with one that I found such hard going but, respecting Ms Leon's talent for springing surprises, I persisted nibbling away. The trouble is that, three weeks on, I am still gnawing on what is truly a dreary meal of more bones than meat, waiting for something to happen and, oddly, not caring if it does....
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on 12 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover
For Commissario Brunetti fans, it's almost heresy for Donna Leon to write a book about anyone else. In "The Jewels of Paradise," Ms Leon has done just that, braving the (already) eddying waters, for sure. She's left the Commissario to enjoy a nice dinner with his family, while she (Leon) takes a break, after some 20 previous (and excellent) Brunettis.

In this new one, we find Caterina Pellegrini, the learned (but not police) scholar who is caught up in a rather intriguing scenario: two locked trunks with "promises" of great treasure--treasure involving, it seems, the whole concept of baroque music. For classical music lovers, this is a waltz right across the ball room; for those readers who know less about this musical era, then, of course, the book comes across as terribly erudite, even boring--indeed, Leon seems to know this but has no problem changing keys, time signatures, and tonal integrity. Let's respect her for that--she's an incredibly intelligent person regardless.

What is still evident is Leon's excellent style of writing, modern, no-nonsense plot development, character portrayal, and standard structure. I laid aside my intense fondness for Signor Brunetti and his family and colleagues and embraced a new approach (yet at the same time, hoping that Leon isn't going to stop the Brunetti series, for, after all, he's not entirely cleaned up Venezian corruption/politics/and socially significant issues. He has miles to go before he sleeps.).

All this "defense of the book" said, and aside, I'm not disappointed in "The Jewels of Paradise." My knowledge of baroque music, while adequate, was enhanced--one CAN learn a new thing or two if one wishes. So, good work, Ms Leon. Don't stop writing. Please.
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