A Curious Beginning

Narrated by: Angele Masters
Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (6,443 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

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What listeners say about A Curious Beginning

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Incredibly self-indulgent of the author

There are few books that are as difficult to get through as this one was.

It was incredibly self-indulgent of the author. It was as if she imagined the perfect modern woman, spirited and intelligent and independent, and then put her in Victorian England where she could do whatever she wanted. She was at times an intolerable know it all, and at others so dense that I felt like pulling out my hair. Imagine a female Sherlock Holmes who has none of his likability. And of course, all of the people around her could only view her with confusion and awe. She is so wonderful in every way, no one knows how to react to her.

The plot was weak to nonexistent, and most of what they did made no sense. Running away to join the circus? Are you kidding me right now? The big reveal made me groan aloud and hit my head against my desk.

Furthermore the relationships made no sense, and were not at all enjoyable to read. Would not recommend to anyone.

93 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

For fans of Elizabeth Peters and Gail Carriger

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!

283 people found this helpful

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Yawn

I am not sure if this book could have been more boring if it tried. Also, where are all these 5 star reviews coming from? The characters are not developed, all the interaction feels forced, the dialogue is completely unbelievable. I am not finishing this. Too many great books out there.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
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Boring

I really wanted to like this book but I found myself thinking about other things while trying to listen. So I 'm giving up half way through, maybe I can get my credit back.

18 people found this helpful

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A Delightful Story

I was fortunate to take a risk on a sale book, and thoroughly enjoyed this almost mythical tale. Heroine lepidopterist and rogue hero naturalist are thrown together when the mystery of the woman's birth puts them both in peril of several powerful forces, including special forces of Scotland Yard. The heroine is a most interesting character in that in the late 1800s, she values her independence above all else. Gratefully, she establishes an intellectual relationship with her fellow scientist, yet it's not without sexual tensions. However, this is most definitely NOT a romance novel. The banter between them is great fun. I will definitely give this story a second listen, and will look for other books by this author.

48 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Masterful reader, fluff book

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.

103 people found this helpful

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Great listen!

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.

110 people found this helpful

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A delightful and entertaining read!

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.

92 people found this helpful

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delighted with new heroine..

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!

49 people found this helpful

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An excellent diversion!

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!

48 people found this helpful