London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria's golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry - and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime. But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker - a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.
©2015 Deanna Raybourn (P)2015 Recorded Books
Very different than the other Deanna Raybourn titles I have listened to but I loved it. Great character development and sometimes laugh out loud funny. Can't wait for the next installment in the series.
Look forward to the next one. BTW: fantastic performance by Angele Masters. Her characterizations were spot on. Ms. Raybourn and Ms. Masters make a great team!
One of Deanna Raybourn's best! This book is quite fun to listen to, the characters are witty and clever. I enjoyed the banter between the main characters. The plot is not predictable yet not to convoluted either. It is a perfect "cozy mystery." I hope this is the beginning of a series.
I won't address the plot here - others have done so. I do want to address the criticism that the heroine is unlikable. I can understand that her brusque demeanor might be off-putting. She is definitely of a type - a strong, independent woman exercising her own agency in an era when that was not the norm. Veronica Speedwell reminded me very much of Amelia Peabody or Alexia Tarabotti, women convinced of their superior judgment, seldom wrong but never in doubt.
I enjoyed the book immensely. It's character types and plot do fit neatly into tropes we've seen before (an exceptional independent woman aided by a rugged misanthrope with a secret or troubled past - eg Mr Rochester - faces sinister forces). If that sounds like the perfect cozy read for a rainy day or on the beach, then I heartily recommend A Curious Beginning.
For anyone worried that this is written by a Romance novelist, I can only say it is not remotely a bodice ripper. There is sexual tension and some suggestive dialogue, but I could probably give this to my Sunday School teacher mother to read without any concern of offending her.
The best news of all - especially for anyone who misses The Parasol Protectorate and Amelia Peabody series - is that the book seems set up as the first in a series. I'm eagerly anticipating the follow up!
Avid reader. Baker. Musician. Did I say avid reader?
This is an object lesson in how a reader can make or break a book: Angele Masters did an absolutely stunning job here - excellent pacing, great voices - I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I didn't realize it was a sort of romance novel when I bought it. It is very good for the genre, but, like many American authors writing British period pieces, Deanna Raybourn seems to have opted for the 'pip pip cheerio' style of "British dialogue". Also, for Victorian England her characters had some pretty glaring behavioral inconsistencies, as well as some rather unbelievable scenarios and procedural anomalies (the fire near the end was a scene very poorly written and why did undercover special branch policemen have blankets??)
All that being said, it was a very enjoyable listen with fun characters - who owe a great deal to Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody, by the way, books I would highly recommend if you like this.
Throughly enjoyed this excellent mystery! The characters are well formed - smart and humorous, and the mystery has enough twists and turns to keep the reader intrigued. I look forward to more outings with Veronica and Stoker!
Well from the reviews there are people who do, but it wasn't for me
For one thing, I find it hard to understand why a woman who is supposed to be a free thinker for her time must be portrayed as opinionated, obnoxious and rude. Somehow it would seem to me that a person who has self confidence would be calmer and more relaxed and self possessed.
The narrator may have been very good, but the main character is so strident and shrill that it was like fingernails on a blackboard to me.
Disappointment, mostly, because the reviews I read made it seem humorous and adventurous and did not mention it as a romance.
I tried to reserve my judgement and give it a chance, but as it went on it got more and more grating. Just couldn't finish it.
This is an awful book. It tries hard to be amusing but is just horrendously arch. I got very tired of our oh-so-unconventional Miss Speedwell's cutesy turns of phrase and the constant bombardment of cliches. The characters are flat caricatures and obvious questions never get asked and answered; this is presumably because that's the only way the author could keep the dull and hackneyed plot going at all. I promise I have a sense of humor, and I approach every listen ready to be transported. This book, though, didn't do it for me. Obviously.
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