The Jewels of Paradise

Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
2.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Caterina Pellegrini is a young Venetian musicologist hired by two competing cousins to find the truthful heir to an alleged treasure concealed by a once-famous, but now almost forgotten, baroque composer. Sworn to secrecy, Caterina can solve the mystery only by searching through the papers contained in the composer’s two chests that have not been opened for centuries. As she delves into all quarters of his life, from professional to personal, she is drawn into one of the most scandalous affairs of the baroque era. When her research takes her in unexpected directions, she begins to wonder what dark secrets these chests hold and just whom can she trust?

©2012 Donna Leon and Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich (P)2012 Random House AudioGo

Critic Reviews

"Donna Leon’s skill with intrigue, clues and suspicion and suspense means that even the most ardent Brunetti devotee ought to find this book a good read." (Jessica Mann, Literary Review )

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    3 out of 5 stars

A good start, but hope for more

This new book by Donna Leon has an intriguing and unusual theme of baroque opera. We get glimpses of life in and around European courts, some scandalous historical characters and social history of the times. The pace is gentle, but not boring, the ending is satisfying, but not earth shattering, and it is an enjoyable book worth listening to, although somehow felt a little flat and incomplete.

The main character, Caterina Pellegrini, is likeable and could be interesting, but I need to know more to understand her better, there are many gaps in her background and loose ends were left unsatisfied. Apart from Caterina herself, most of the present day characters were only lightly touched on and left little impression. Some of her family and friends were introduced, but so briefly. I want to know more about her sister who is a nun, more about her kind brother-in-law and definitely more of the drunken Romanian academic.

If, on the other hand, this is meant as the first of a series, where Caterina has future mysteries to solve, possibly in and around her specialty world of music and opera, this would be a good introductory book. We can look forward to the development of the characters of family and friends, their relationships and interaction. I hope my curiosity will be satisfied and look forward to hearing more about Caterina Pellegrini’s world in the future.

I found that the narrator’s gentle but strong Irish accent very distracting when she read various characters with strong Italian accents and also that the sound quality was not clear, making this audio hard to listen to, but not enough to stop me wanting to finish the story.

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  • Sp
  • 06-09-13

Disappointing

As a big fan of Donna Leon I have to say that I found this audiobook very disappointing. The plot moved along painfully slowly and then fizzled out completely. The use of Italian accents for all the characters by the narrator was irritating and unnecessary.

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  • JW Abbotts Ann
  • 05-11-20

VERY different from the Brunetti books!

I have to agree with the reviewer who remarked "If you are drawn to this because you love the Brunetti stories, save your money. Read the back of the cornflakes packet instead." This is the only Donna Leon book I have struggled to finish - all her "Brunetti" novels were 5-star page-turners. This seemed to be going nowhere - at a snail's pace. As another reviewer remarks, the first 7 chapters can be summarised as "A woman applies for a job, and gets it". These chapters are completely irrelevant to the "plot". Skip them. Whereas I loved Leo's descriptions of Brunetti's Venice, the amount of (often extremely repetitive) detail devoted to the most mundane actions - positioning papers on a desk, unwrapping and eating a chocolate bar - were stultifying. Not only are the details dull but the characters never come to life. I ploughed on, hoping for a big revelation. Disappointingly, the denouement seemed to be merely a way for the author to end the tedium. The "surprise revelation" is delivered in the last few paragraphs and is probably mildly satisfying only to lovers of morality tales. I suppose I had been expecting a narrator similar to those of the Brunetti novels but (perhaps unfairly, by comparison) I did not enjoy the narrator's slightly drawling American accent which I found rather "preachy" in tone

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  • Chris Underhill
  • 02-16-18

For the love of Venice <br />

Donna Leon has pulled away from Commissario Brunetti to pastures new in terms of central characters ...with one exception Venice herself. as ever the city is beautifully described. This story does not quite come off but it is still well worth reading to the end.

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  • L. McCulloch
  • 11-19-16

Disappointed

The narrator's Italian accent is unconvincing and detracts from the story. The story is an interesting history of a composer and his era. Surrounding this with a modern girl's return home to Venice didn't work for me. An unsatisfying ending.