Elizabeth Peter's novels that feature Kirby are both entertaining and full of twists. The plots are much easier to follow in an audio book than her somewhat ponderous Egyptian series with Peabody. Kirby adds a quirky humorous anti-heroine slant, taking the endangered young art history student Jean under her protection when she becomes a target for a murderer. Peters makes very believable the group of students who are at once competitors and allies in their desire to get continued funding for their studies in Rome. Ancient art history and those who spend their lives exploring it are both much more accessible in this story. Even my teenage son wanted to listen when I had it on in the car. I rather hated for the book to end, and wish Peters' later novels were more like this one.
I hoped for an entertaining tale, maybe in the vein of Peter Mayle, but instead found myself wincing at the repeated boorish and needless vulgarity. There were small snippets here and there that had some appeal, if he only had not insisted on making every experience into something crude. How sad, how a story that sounded quite fun and full of adventure could have been turned into a trashy, down-at-the mouth and cynical story.
The hijinks of a lively cast of characters of crooks and would-be or had-been crooks kept me eager to hear more of this fun story of improbable coincidences, where everyone seems to be a crook or scoundrel of one type or another. But all have some redeeming quality that makes one cheer for them.
With no serious or lasting harm coming to any of the characters, I was able to enjoy this thoroughly.
I only felt sorry that the author didn't bring the two least likable characters together in the end. They both were too self-proud and judgemental to deserve anyone else. Maybe he saved them for another story.
At first I found the different voices a bit much, but they grew on me. They did help distinguish the characters' dialogue from each other.
I really enjoyed this, and will probably buy more of P.G. Wodehouse, if this one is anything like the rest! Quite fun!
I loved the hilarious way Vicky Bliss competes with her boyfriend/collegue in their search to be first to find a fantastic relic. So what if she is beautiful, she's smart enough to make it on brains alone. They both know she is far smarter than he, and when through her superior physical strength and brains she saves both their lives, he is really chagrined. And of course she is instrumental to solving the mystery of where the relic is/what it is. I find Peters' style of writing and cast of characters in the Vicky Bliss series far easier to follow and get/stay interested in, than those in her Amelia Peabody series. I've read another Vicky Bliss story that was equally amusing, but with enough mystery to keep me guessing til the end.
I enjoyed all parts of this story, and find myself searching for more like it. I think the intertwining of interesting characters with the small details of how they live their lives is what kept me listening. The description of the various houses allowed me to visualize those so it felt close to having been in the houses. I was a little disappointed that Elfreda and Oscar didn't stay in the large house, but that did show their adaptability to circumstance. I liked the way that small details, like what it was like to go out on a cold morning to start the car, were not glossed over, but an essential part of what the character's lives were like. Since Pilcher has many other fine novels, I wish more were available through Audible!
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