I do not enjoy travel and have a terribly untutored palate, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love listening to descriptions of people enjoying food and wine, and Peter Mayle conveys his enjoyment and manages to include me at the table. I, like Mr. Jenkins, never eat anything I can't pronounce, but Mr. Mayle broadens my horizons and allows me the second-hand experience of far-away things without leaving home. The narrator was excellent, surpassed only by Mayle himself. This is a wonderful listen for a slow day on the porch or in the garden.
I'm new to Ellery Queen, and I found this to be a good story with an interesting plotline. It was written early last century and shows it - the action doesn't move extremely quickly and the discussions move at a slower pace. The villain is a surprise, not because the author 'cheated', but because the plot twists and clues are subtle. Possibly once I have read a number of these I will be better at predicting the ending, but I doubt it. I very much enjoyed the plot and most of the characters.
One note: this book was written in a time when minorities were often portrayed almost as caricatures. I can generally overlook a certain number of these types of references, but this book has some scenes and descriptions that are pretty shocking by today's standards. Djuna the houseboy is of gypsy origin, according to Wikipedia, but that is not clear in the text. Djuna is not a major character in the story (he is supposed to be comic relief, I think, but I didn't find him funny) and is portrayed with affection like a pet. If this upsets you, consider reading Rex Stout instead, or at least skipping the few scenes involving Djuna.
I took a star off my overall rating because of the way Djuna was portrayed. He did detract from my enjoyment of the book in spite of my efforts to overlook those scenes.
Bottom line: the story is good, the characters are interesting, and the book is worth reading if you can take a scholarly approach to the portrayal of Djuna as a product of that time. I am going to try a few more of the series and hope for the best.
No motive, 2 unrelated crimes, reads more like a diary full of irrelevancies than a novel. The mystery is a side-line and honestly has no motive, be warned. On the other hand, if you enjoy following a well-to-do housewife/author around in her daily life it's not too bad. She has plenty of money, enjoys shopping for her wedding, and eats out a lot. She fights with her awful mother-in-law to be and her awful former mother-in-law. She does a couple of book signings. She's building an addition on her house, changes kitty litter and makes good grocery lists. There is a fair amount of product placement which I hope the author was paid for. The main character is never in any danger, regardless of what the blurb says, and doesn't help solve the motiveless mystery. There are a few well-written scenes so I know the author is capable of writing, and I hear the rest of the series is better. This probably isn't a good place to jump in. I suppose if you have followed the whole series and come to love the characters this book sort of wraps up their lives and includes a mystery as an afterthought.
This story reads like a dungeons and dragons game, so if you like that stuff it's fun little adventure. The narrator is not the best in my opinion.
Let me start by saying that I don't usually read romances, so please take that under advisement. Maybe all romances have goofy dialogue. I chose this story for the title (very nice) and the hints in the synopsis of a historical mystery. Sadly, it turned out that the title wasn't very important in the story line, although I like the idea of lavender cookies. I wonder how they taste. Anyway, the mention of old letters is what really grabbed me. So I didn't enjoy all the silly boy-girl games that went on. But I did like the historical chase and the idea that it impacted the present. Sadly, the story lines I was most interested in - Tess' back story and whatever happened in 1941 - weren't followed up in this novel. I expect they turn up again in another one, but I just can't wade through all the really silly conversations again, so I will pass. Honestly, if I had been reading this book in print I would have just skipped anything in quotes. Too bad - it could have been a great story.
Ordinarily I like history books as audio. They use a different vocabulary and rythm than fiction that not everyone finds appealing, but since I am writing a review it is important to understand that I did not expect this book to read like an Agatha Christie. That being said, the type of content in this book would be better served in written form. There are lists of words and letters which the poor narrator reads as best he can, and spelling is important in the study of the history of english. I think the content is excellent and the narrator is good but this is one of those books which is best appreciated and much easier to follow on the page.
Really fun story line, excellent suspense building, and some honestly laugh-out-loud scenes. I don't laugh out loud at books, but so far there have been scenes in each book of this series that have made me roar. I even enjoyed the battle scenes although military fiction is not usually my cup of tea. Quirky and odd and hilarious - a very satisfying respite from reality.
Note: I think this series is Christian friendly but not preachy, however there is a fair amount of pseudo-cursing and some coarse talk among the soldiers in the story - enough to be realistic (realistic? It's a flying submarine!) but not overdone. Still, sensitive readers should take this under advisement.
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