"While we are reading, we are all Don Quixote." ~ Mason Cooley

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Jewels of Paradise

I've been a Donna Leon fan for years, more than fond of Commassario Guido Brunetti, hero of her Venetian mystery series, frequently recommending her - and him - to friends and family.  Such a fan that I pre-ordered her new novel, The Jewels of Paradise, as soon as Amazon let it be known that it would appear this fall.  Eager to meet her new heroine, Caterina Pelligrini, Baroque opera scholar.

So when it finally arrived on my Kindle, I curled up on the sofa, a steaming cup of coffee at hand, afghan over my lap, intent on spending the morning wandering among Venetian canals and palazzos, becoming acquainted with a new character than I hoped would become an old friend.

And was sadly disappointed.  In an attempt to create a stand alone novel, perhaps in a new voice or style, Leon appears to have thrown out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  Gone are the charming characters, the insightful social commentary, the allusions to delectable food, even the magical lure of Venice.

In their place, two-dimensional, bland characters who failed to arouse my interest or concern, a complex and convoluted rendering of a piece of Baroque musical history, peppered with Italian and Venetian dialect.  I finished it driven only by the hope that I had jumped to conclusions about the book too soon. I didn't change my mind.  I'm afraid Dottoressa Pellegrini is destined to be a passing acquaintance.