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The Jewels of Paradise

3.05  ·  Rating Details ·  1,694 Ratings  ·  434 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. Wi
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Jan 06, 2013 Dale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery, italy
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
Nov 23, 2012 Vonette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
" 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
Nov 16, 2012 Larraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 07, 2012 Judie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 09, 2012 Celia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
May 02, 2014 Dorothy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Donna Leon's writing is always easy to read. I was made aware of that in this novel, when the heroine went to lunch with the lawyer and launched into a tedious treatise on music, and I was jolted out of the narrative. I discovered I'd got half-way through the book without noticing.

Unfortunately that boring lunch scene was the turning point for me. Up to that point, nothing much had happened but there was a hint of mystery in the air. After that point, the heroine got stuck into her historical re
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
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
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
Apr 28, 2013 Yvonne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2016 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Difficult read and clever karma exercise! This novel is a puzzle within a maze of introspections. It is not a book for action readers. Patience is required to reach a reveal for the main characters' core desires. And for their moods for vengeance OR NOT. And one of the characters has been dead for more than 300 years. It's a pile of nesting dolls. Or closer to this tale- it's more of the case of a box within a box.

Very Italian in connotation and in language.
Mary Ronan Drew
Feb 10, 2013 Mary Ronan Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 28, 2015 Hilary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This book by Donna Leon has an intriguing and unusual theme of baroque opera. We get excellent 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 m
Oct 10, 2012 Damaskcat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 13, 2013 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Donna Leon has taken the life of Agostino Steffani (1654 – 1728), Italian abbé, composer, and diplomat, and constructed a riff on Venetian faith and cupidity, seen through the eyes of Caterina, a skeptical Venetian musicologist hired to go through his effects for items of value. Steffani composed numerous successful operas while he was Kapellmeister at the court of Hanover, working for the Elector Ernst Augustus who became King George I of England in 1714. The history involved in explaining his ...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
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
Dec 27, 2012 Trudy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Lautner
Dec 11, 2015 Mary Lautner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was Fascinated by the research Caterina becomes involved in to understand the wishes of a man who died hundreds of years ago. Just touching the history, thinking about how they lived, kept me interested. I am no historian but I can appreciate the desire to learn about the past and tease a full story out of disparate sources. The context is the late 1600s in Venice.
This book was awful! Dull, dry, confusing, and pointless. Never have I read a book where the author could make a character being pursued down a dark alley boring and uneventful. The main character was so full of herself and treated the reader like they were stupid, to the point that you wanted her to fail or be the victim. The use of Italian was not well placed and useless because it wasn't explained and didn't have any context. I also still have no idea what the mystery was in this book. For so ...more
Dec 26, 2012 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 15, 2012 Laraine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 23, 2015 Joanne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love Donna Leon's Brunetti books, but this one, a departure from that particular series, left me disappointed. There was too much unnecessary detail and the tediousness of some of the research the main character was performing was just too much. Every little step, such as "tearing open a little packet of sugar and spilling the contents into the coffee cup.." seemed to be included, except where it was all wrapped up very quickly at the very end. I found I didn't really care whether the mystery ...more
Jul 27, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, drama
Venetian musicologist Caterina (Katerina?), stuck at a job in Manchester, longs to return to Venice. When a job comes up, she jumps at it. It's an odd job; two old chests containing documents from or related to a baroque composer have turned up, and two cousins descended from cousins of the composer are vying for who gets them. It's Caterina's job to read all the documents (in multiple languages), looking for any evidence of testamentary disposition, though in reality the job involves a huge amo ...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 about Donna Leon...

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