The Jewels of Paradise
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The Jewels of Paradise

2.99 of 5 stars 2.99  ·  rating details  ·  889 ratings  ·  299 reviews
Donna Leon has won heaps of critical praise and legions of fans for her best-selling mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. With The Jewels of Paradise, Leon takes readers beyond the world of the Venetian Questura in her first standalone novel.

Caterina Pellegrini is a native Venetian, and like so many of them, she’s had to leave home to pursue her career. Wit...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2012)
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I was disappointed by this novel. Having read and enjoyed all of Leon's Brunetti novels, I had hoped that this would be a nice change. Sadly, it fails in several ways and offers little in compensation for its failures.

A musicologist originally from Venice is working as a researcher in Manchester when she hears about a temporary research job in Venice. She applies for the job and is accepted, and gladly abandons her job in England to return to her birthplace. Her task is to analyze the contents o...more
" It's a gentle cerebral mystery", I stole this quote from someone else, though I have to say that it was very much on the gentle side, barely a mystery, more of a tale about researching Baroque music.
Leon really didn't flesh out any of the secondary characters, all except a drunken romanian seemed pretty lost in two dimensionality. There really wasn't much to the mystery, she could have made more out of the secondary mysteries, like was the lawyer really what he seemed? Who was he REALLY workin...more
Though I had not read a book by this author before, I can tell she knows how to write. So why has she presented us with this mishmash of meaningless (and sometimes downright boring) narrative? There were some glimpses of what the author is capable of in the letters between the main character and her sister. But most of the book leads you on to expect things you never get--such as an understanding of the lawyer, why he is involved and what motivates him. Furthermore, there were times when the mai...more
First Sentence: Caterina Pelligrini closed the door behind her and leaned her back and then her head against it.

Caterina Pelligrini has a degree in baroque opera and is Venetian by birth but working in Oxford, England. The offer of a job allows her to return home. Two locked trunks, centuries old and thought to belong to a mostly forgotten composer, have been discovered. Although there are no direct descendants, two cousins claim inheritance and are anxious to discover the rumored treasure thoug...more
Disappointment! This novel lacks everything that her Brunetti series has--warm, intelligent, interesting characters that the reader can care about, a good plot to follow, plenty of comments on Venice, Italy, and fabulous descriptionsof good food. These characters remained mostly a mystery to me and I did not care about them! Darn! I just love Brunetti, his family, the secretary, his coworkers (even his ridiculous, pompous superiors) and sometimes even the evildoers. The plot in Jewels of Paradis...more
I’ve read and enjoyed all of Dona Leon’s previous books featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti and have been eagerly anticipating her latest book, THE JEWELS OF PARADISE. Had it been written by an author I didn’t know, I would have given up on in after the first few chapters.
The story is set in Venice where Caterina Pellegrini has just come home from England to decipher two trunks of documents which have been untouched since the early 1700s. The trunks belonged to an Italian Baroque composer and...more
Donna Leon is best known for her Inspector Brunetti series. However, she has apparently always been a serious student of music. In this novel we are treated to an interesting mystery about the inheritance left by an obscure Baroque musician. His papers are contained in two trunks which are being fought over by two cousins, both of whom are trying to lay claim to whatever "treasure" is in the trunks. They have employed an attorney who hires Caterina, a young Italian woman who is a professor of mu...more
June Ahern
Donna Leon, an author I enjoyed for a long time. My error, not checking before purchasing that this book didn't include my favorite Italian sleuth, Detective or in Italian, Commissario Brunetti mystery. Try as I am finding interest in "The Jewels of Paradise" is beyond - yawn - are we there yet? I hate to say this, really, because Ms. Leon has entertained me, albeit some thin plots, for a many a read. I feel as though I'm in a history class that I just have no interest. The protagonist, Caterina...more
Blair McDowell
It is said that Agatha Christie tired of Poirot, and that Conan Doyle wanted, after a time, to kill off Sherlock Holmes. I cannot imagine what induced Donna Leon to write this long winded and meandering novel, The Jewels of Paradise, except perhaps boredom with her highly successful series featuring Venetian detective, Guido Brunetti.

Let me say at the onset that Leon is incapable of writing anything but highly literate, beautifully thought-out prose. That is as true of The Jewels of Paradise as...more
Donna Leon traded Commisario Guido Brunetti for Dottoressa Caterina Pellegrini. As it happens many times when writers of series novels and characters strike out to write a stand-alone, their fans are disappointed. This was the case for me with Donna Leon’s The Jewels of Paradise.
The plot is good--actually two plots--what is happening in the novel and the investigation into a Baroque composer the dottoressa is undertaking. But she lacked Brunetti’s charm. Again, Venice is the big protagonist in t...more
Mary Ronan Drew
I'm a great fan of Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti mysteries and I'm reading my way through them slowly as I don't want to face the day when there are no more of them. So I was pleased when recently I was checking the library database to determine if there is a new Brunetti novel when I spotted The Jewels of Paradise, a stand-alone published in 2012.

Unlike the Brunetti books, this is not a mystery, at least not the kind where somebody is murdered and the hero has to figure out who did it. The Jewels...more
This is Donna Leon's first stand-alone novel, as far as I know, and it doesn't compare very well to her Comissario Brunetti series. In fact,I'm tempted to call it "Leon-lite." Caterina returns to Venice to do research to discover, if possible, which of his relatives the composer Steffani intended to leave his estate to. Lots of references to baroque operas and to goings-on in Italian and German states in the 17th century. The characters are not very well developed except Caterina, and I'm sorry...more
As a thriller, the story is not very thrilling. Much space is devoted to the main character's historical research and the resulting hypotheses, which are only marginally relevant to the eventual (unexciting) outcome, but which are cleverly developed as the pieces of the puzzle are gathered by painstaking searches in libraries and through privileged contacts. As a Venetian novel, Donna Leon has already done better in the creation of atmosphere. There is an attempt at romance which falls flat, non...more
I've always thought it must be difficult for established authors famous for a particular series character or genre, to break out of the mould and write something different. What should they do? Hope their fans will stay with them even though the book is different? Or do they branch out under another name and hope the book will stand on its own and gain them a following?

Ruth Rendell wrote as Barbara Vine and did well with her stand alone thrillers after her success with the Wexford series; Agatha...more
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
I love the Commissario Brunetti books by Donna Leon so when I say The Jewels of Paradise audio CD on a recent trip to the library I immediately picked it up. I was not disappointed.

The book is filled with wonderful characters. Caterian is the main character but there are other scattered in the story that add to the richness of the tale. I only met Caterian’s sister, a nun, through their emails but she comes across fully developed. The Romanian, a scholar who is seldom sober, is a very nice touch...more
Brenda Hawley
I have read all of Donna Leon's Brunetti mysteries set in Venice and was looking forward to this book coming out as well. I was sadly disappointed. The local color of Venice which shines in the Guido series is just not there this time. Instead, there is a rather dry, slow moving story about a box of letters from a 1700s opera composer which might contain a "treasure". Whether it did ot not was really of little importance by the time I finished the book as my attention had lagged well beyond the...more
Rob Slaven
As I have so often said lately, I received this book as part of the GoodReads FirstReads program. Despite the fact that I didn't pay a farthing for this novel I will endeavor to review it with baldfaced honesty.

Leon, from all I can tell is a widely acclaimed author and you can see shadows of her skill in this offering but sadly, they are just shadows. "The Jewels" is erudite as it demonstrates the author's research into Baroque music and she does a good job of education but I think most readers...more
I received this novel as a giveaway, a Goodreads First Read, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the writing as I haven't read anything else by Donna Leon. In The Jewels of Paradise, Caterina Pellegrini, a well-educated musicologist and expert in Baroque opera, has moved back home to Venice to take a job reading and categorizing the contents of a pair of old trunks in order to determine to which of two families the contents should belong. The representatives of this family are not necess...more
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What intrigued me about this book was the theme: greed vs. respect for a life. What triumphs is intellect at the service of such respect and admiration of a life discovered 300 years gone. And as subtle as Donna Leon can be in her mystery novels with the discoveries and thoughtful realizations of Guido Brunetti and his wife, she hones that subtleness in the characters of this story. Particularly Caterina and Moretti. What can be more crude than the degrading disregard and insensitivity of Stieva...more
I've enjoyed Ms Leon's plot, characters and writing in the Brunetti series so thought I'd enjoy a stand-alone novel, expecting her proven brand of verve.

Instead I found a rather weak plot, vapid characters sans the joys of Venice, the city where Ms Leon has lived for three decades and where her Brunetti series is set. It's hard to tell that this novel is in Venice--though Venice is where its main character, Catarina Pelligrini, is from and moved back to during this long and arduous novel--or sh...more
Howard Marder
Sometimes a really knowledgeable author shares too much information with the reader. Having bought and read all of Donna Leon's books, the pre-publication notice of it on Amazon meant that I would have to read it as soon as it came out. I'm almost finished plodding my way through and have to express disappointment with one of my favorite authors. Ms. Leon's knowledge and love of Baroque Opera and Venice is great but for some reason it doesn't come together for me. Released in tandem with Cecilia...more
I've read most of Donna Leon's Venetian mysteries and enjoy them. I've read a few more than once and have listened to audio versions of books I've read. Most of her books involve Commissario Guido Brunetti of the local Venice police.

Jewels of Paradise breaks out of that police mold and involves a 300 year old pair of chests left by an enigmatic composer and bishop, Agostino Steffani. The two chests are the focus of a custody battle by two distant cousins related to the composer. The cousins hir...more
This is a beautifully researched story, well written, clever, rich in history and sense of people and place in Venice, where the author has lived for 30 years. I've read most of Leon's Inspector Brunetti novels, and I think The Jewels is better than most - up to the ending. No spoilers. You'll have to make up your own mind. But it seemed to me she just crashed for some reason and decided to end the story quickly, on a dime. Disney. My 4+ stars devolved, from heartbreak, to 3.
Leon's Commissario Brunetti novels are literate, entertaining and highly addictive. I suspect that she felt a wee bit trapped by the yoke of their success and yearned to write something that felt fresh and wanted to explore new characters.

Whatever her motivation, and despite her skill, this stand alone novel just didn't capture my interest or involve me in any way in the characters. I empathize with her predicament, but miss the Brunetti family and their wonderful Italian meals and moral and pol...more
A very disappointing book. The plot is so thin that while it may have done nicely for a short story, trying to use for a full novel means that three quarters of it is just filling in. The most annoying bits are the innumerable where she describes her main character eating.
Besides what makes the charm of the commissario Brunetti is totally absent. There is none of the wonderful and atmospheric description of Venice: the Venice of this book is the kind of cliche Venice that you would expect from...more
Does anyone actually remeber when they finish a book? This one I finished last month--and since then I've read another called The Golden Egg.

I like these, not because they are traditional mysteries--which they are not--but because I love Donna Leon's writing, her characters (one of which is the city of Venice itself), and her world view.
Caroline Taggart
Interesting to see the wonderful Donna Leon writing about something other than Commissario Brunetti, but I don’t think this quite comes off.

A young musicologist and researcher returns to her home city of Venice after an absence of some years, with the job of examining papers left by the Baroque composer Steffani and deciding which of his grasping descendants is entitled to the mysterious ‘treasure’ he is said to have left.

There’s lots of good tension as Caterina uncovers the possibility that t...more
The author's enjoyable style of writing is evident but is overlaid by her apparent desire to show off her familiarity with Venice.

In the Brunetti series, we move through the streets and plazas, learning as we go without their being pointed out as in a guided tourist bus. This latest story takes a much more aloof tone, looking down on those of us not intimately familiar with the city and it's language.

In addition, the author periodically steps out of the story to lecture us on some aspect or othe...more
Beetje tegenvaller. Het is een vermakelijk boekje, maar meer zeker niet. Het hele verhaal is erg slap, en de opzet van het romannetje is veel te gemakkelijk: een onderzoekster wordt op een nogal ongelooflijke onderzoekstaak gezet, en komt al zoekende her en der wat weetjes over de componist steffani te weten. Met het hoofdpersonage worden wat taferelen en nevenverhaaltjes uitgewerkt, maar niet boeiends, spannends, leerrijk, ...
En waar het begin wat traagjes vooruitgaat, loopt alles in de laatst...more
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Donna Leon (born September 29, 1942, in Montclair, New Jersey) is an American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice and featuring the fictional hero Commissario Guido Brunetti.

Donna Leon has lived in Venice for over twenty-five years. She has worked as a lecturer in English Literature for the University of Maryland University College - Europe (UMUC-Europe) in Italy, then as a Professor...more
More about Donna Leon...
Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti, #1) Death in a Strange Country (Commissario Brunetti, #2) Acqua Alta (Commissario Brunetti, #5) Dressed for Death (Commissario Brunetti, #3) A Noble Radiance (Commissario Brunetti, #7)

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