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Dido's Crown

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Set in Tunisia and France in 1935, Dido's Crown is a taut historical thriller influenced by Indiana Jones, The Thin Man, and John le Carré.

Mary Wilson MacPherson has always been adept at putting the past behind her: her father's death, her sister's disappearance, and her complicated relationship with childhood friends Tom and Will. But that all changes when, traveling to North Africa on business for her husband, Mary meets a handsome French-Tunisian trader who holds a mysterious package her husband has purchased — a package which has drawn the interest not only of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, but the Nazis as well.

When Tom and Will arrive in Tunisia, Mary suddenly finds herself on a race across the mesmerizing and ever-changing landscapes of the country, to the shores of southern France, and all across the wide blue Mediterranean. Despite her best efforts at distancing herself from her husband's world, Mary has become embroiled in a mystery that could threaten not only Tunisian and British security in the dangerous political landscape of 1935, but Mary's beliefs about her past and the security of her own future.

340 pages, Paperback

Published September 29, 2016

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About the author

Julie K. Rose

3 books156 followers
Julie K. Rose is an author of historical fiction, fascinated by stories and settings slightly off the beaten track. From 12th century Burgundy in The Pilgrim Glass, to early 20th century Norway in Oleanna, to 1930s Tunisia in Dido's Crown, she has a deep love for history and a terrible case of wanderlust. Her love of language, history, and art history led her to degrees in Humanities and English – and a lifelong passion for creativity.

She is also the host of the Love What You Love podcast.

Julie lives in the Bay Area with her husband and rescue cats, and loves reading, following the San Francisco Giants, and enjoying the amazing natural beauty of Northern California.

Look for her on Twitter and YouTube @juliekrose and on Facebook and Instagram @juliekroseauthor.

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5 stars
21 (46%)
4 stars
10 (22%)
3 stars
7 (15%)
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6 (13%)
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1 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa.
258 reviews32 followers
October 10, 2016
Dido's Crown, the latest historical novel from Julie K. Rose, is an action-packed historical tale set primarily in mid-1930s Tunisia. The tale centres around the quest for a mysterious package purchased by a British academic that is also sought by British and German intelligence services. While the narrative is told from the perspective of several key characters, it is Mary MacPherson, wife of the British academic, who features most prominently. After attempting to pick up the mysterious package from an associate of her husband's, Mary unwittingly becomes part of a quest that pits the British and German intelligence services against one another; a quest that has direct connections to her past and brings her back into contact with two childhood friends, Tom and Will.

The plot of Dido's Crown is an intricate one, with various mysteries and character motivations hinted at in bits and pieces as the narrative unfolds. While the plot moves quickly, the truth behind the novel's many mysteries are revealed slowly, keeping the reader engaged in the story's outcome right to the very end. The novel's key characters are well-drawn and interesting, and I became quite invested in their fates. Another strong aspect of the book is the setting. Much as she did for turn of the 20th century Norway in Oleanna [a totally great book I also recommend], Rose has vividly conveyed the landscape of 1930s Tunisia. While the politics of the era are not described in detail, Rose provides sufficient background to ensure the reader understands the complexity of the situation in the French Protectorate and the impact it had on certain characters.

Recommended to all fans of historical fiction and thrillers.

Note: My thanks to Julie K. Rose for providing me with a copy of the novel. This did not influence my rating and I was under no obligation to provide a review.
Profile Image for Meg - A Bookish Affair.
2,445 reviews191 followers
October 6, 2016
4.5 stars. In "Dido's Crown," Mary is good at running. When she comes across a mysterious package and becomes embroiled in a chase, she realizes that she can't run from her problems and sometimes confronting them is the only way! Buoyed by two friends from school, Tom and Will, Mary will put together the pieces of a mystery that had me on the edge of my seat.

Julie K. Rose knows how to spin a good story! One way to describe this book is that it felt very movie-esque to me. It feels like a old black and white classic filled with intrigue, snappy dialogue, and lots of adventure. I loved how the author gave the characters more depth than just talking about the action that they are witnessing. You get a good sense of where Mary, Will, and Tom came from and what makes them tick. The action is exciting and would have held my attention alone but I did like getting to know the characters. It certainly made the book more striking!

One of the stand outs in the book for me was the settings. Sure, France is probably pretty familiar to anyone who has spent any time checking out the HistFic genre. Tunisia was not someplace that I had read a lot of fiction about and I ate it up. The author does a great job of immersing the reader in a new world with lots of great historical and landscape detail. I loved it and was not ready to leave when I finished the book.

This book would be a great fit for someone who wants to be very immersed in a story. It is a true treat for historical fiction readers. I am certainly looking forward to more books by this author in the future!
Profile Image for Lauralee.
Author 2 books19 followers
October 20, 2016
Mary MacPherson arrives at a party in Tunisia to retrieve a package for her husband. At the party, she is reunited with her two best friends, Will and Tom, who also want to know the package’s contents. Soon Mary, Tom, and Will find themselves amidst a dangerous conspiracy that could threaten both Britain and Tunisia. Mary and her three friends are determined to unravel the mystery of the package.

I really did not like Mary as the protagonist. I felt the author tried too hard to make her a strong character. Instead, I found her to be a very annoying character. She came across to me as a smart-alec. I did not find that to be very endearing. I honestly did not see why she was very likeable to the other characters. If she was not being smart, then she would whine and complain a lot. Despite her flaws, she is very intelligent and inquisitive. She is determined to get answers. I did like Will and Tom. I found them to be very engaging, likeable, and complex characters. I liked them better than Mary.

Overall, this book is full of political intrigue, action, adventure, mystery, and a dash of romance. I liked all the characters except for Mary, for they seem to be very complex. I also thought that this book was a very fast-paced and quick read. There were some slow moments in the book. I also did not like how it switched back and forth between 1935 and 1916, for I thought the time jumps to be confusing and distracting to the main plot. Nevertheless, the mystery and the adventure element kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end because I could not wait to find out what happens. I recommend this story for fans of Alone in Berlin, The Unlikely Spy, and A Chance to Kill.
(Note: This book was given to me as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.)
Profile Image for Anna Graham.
Author 30 books4 followers
September 30, 2016
Action and intrigue meet head on in Julie K. Rose's third novel, Dido's Crown. Set in 1935 Tunisia, this story cleverly blends adventure, history, and family drama, leaving this reader turning page after page to find out what happens next. But like in any Julie Rose novel, there's a desire to savor each paragraph for the extensive attention to detail. Tunisia is vividly brought to life, sights and scents sending me back nearly one hundred years. I was captured both by the plot's mystery and where it took me, beyond Northern Africa to France, then back again.

Mary, Tom, and Will are longtime friends, but their histories are linked by sorrow as well as affection. Reunited by a mysterious package which Mary is supposed to deliver to her husband, two more are drawn into their clique, altering the dynamics forever. What I especially loved was the well-balanced tension between the action and the characters' personal exploits. This isn't an ordinary spy thriller, nor is it typical historical fiction. It's a scintillating and at times searing view into pre-war Europe and Africa spiced by heroism and tragedy.

Taut and entertaining, Dido's Crown sheds historical light on an often overlooked part of the world, but Julie K. Rose does Tunisia justice, as well as her characters. While this story takes place in early spring, something about it feels ideal for autumnal enjoyment. I highly recommend this novel.
720 reviews
December 29, 2016
Another absolute stunner by Julie Rose. I have loved her other two books and this one was another wonderful read. As with her other books, the setting is almost a character unto itself. I actually felt I was was there with Mary having all of her adventures. This book starts off at a quick pace and never lets up. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Ben.
200 reviews3 followers
August 3, 2017
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. It was signed by the author.

I found the book to be ok, but nothing overly special. The story is billed as a female Indiana Jones influenced by "The Thin Man, and John le Carré." I haven't read The Thin Man or much of le Carré, but this book definitely wasn't Indiana Jones.

The story follows Mary Wilson MacPherson, an upperclass partier and history lecturer/antique hunter who is the somewhat estranged wife of another historian/antiques hunter. We meet her at a party in Tunisia while she is on a job for her husband picking up a package from a handsome French-Tunisian man. But of course it all goes south, two long time (and long ago) friends Will and Tom arrive, apparently on the same job, there is a brief capture by the Nazis, and car chases across the desert.

Sounds exciting, right? The problem is it doesn't all make sense, and most of the action is subdued by drawn out reflections back to Mary's father (who died when she was 16), her estranged sister (who turns out to be one of the characters behind the chase for this mysterious package), and Mary's husband (who we never really understand until the end - he's a British fascist trying to finance his work through antiques and who seems hell bent for this package...that we don't know the value of).

There were moments when I was genuinely interested in what was happening or going to happen (though I was rarely that invested in the characters), and I wanted to know more about the father's role in all of this. I especially wanted to know more about the package - some form of code or a document that outlined something ancient, or maybe even a priceless antique itself - that's known as Dido's Crown (or maybe it isn't, Dido's Crown is also supposed to be a constellation?).

Regardless, I was never completely captured by the book, was never invested in the characters, was left feeling the story was incomplete, and wasn't quite sure what the point of the whole adventure was.
Profile Image for Angela.
17 reviews4 followers
April 19, 2018
Dido's Crown reads more like a screenplay than a novel: the characters are richly drawn, the landscapes vivid, dramatic, and well-researched, the dialogue is smart and snappy, and the plot chock full of twists and surprises. One can easily imagine Mary Wilson MacPherson and Frank Collins cast by Hepburn and Tracy, or in a more modern rendition perhaps, Kristen Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes, or even the spunky Daisy Ridley and Tom Hiddleston. Rose's ability to evoke scenes is simply that good, and her short chapter style easily lends itself to a film adaptation. One can only hope Hollywood takes notice. And yet what Rose achieves with in the cinematographic breadth of her story is somewhat diminished by a lack of psychological depth to her characters. We spend a good deal of time watching them race back and forth across the Mediterranean, or through the Tunisian countryside and back alleyways, but are seldom treated to any real interiority. It is more of a book one watches than feels. This may be deliberate but one yearns for a dash more Ian McEwan or Kate Atkinson in this great war drama. Nonetheless, Rose is an author to watch, and I would not be surprised to see a big publishing house snap her up in the near future.
Profile Image for Brenda.
24 reviews1 follower
January 16, 2018
Dido's Crown starts off at a run and keeps gaining speed until it's climactic ending. In the uncertain political climate of 1935 as Hitler begins his ascent to power a mysterious package sparks an international game of cat and mouse. Only, in this case, we can never be sure who is the cat and who is the mouse. Mary MacPherson becomes an unwitting player as she travels to Tunisia at the behest of her husband, to whom she is unhappily married. As the mission he assigns her goes awry, Mary is reunited with two childhood friends who may or may nor be what they seem. The three join forces to search for the package as they run for their lives. We follow along by land, sea, and air as they rush to put together the pieces of the puzzle and stay one step ahead of government and intelligence ops who are hot on their trail. This fast-paced read which brings to mind Daniel Silva and Alan Furst will pull you in and keep you turning the pages in breathless anticipation.
Profile Image for Megan Fisher.
1 review
February 18, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I was drawn into Rose's world so quickly. The mood and scenery were so clearly painted in my mind. I could feel the heat of the sun on my face and smell the jasmine in the air.

The intrigue had my mind racing. I was left hanging and wondering what was happening and who I could trust the entire time. The execution was so skilled that the author even had me questioning the motives of some of the main characters at times! I just really felt pulled in and each of the characters seemed so alive.

All said, I would highly recommend Dido's Crown to anyone seeking an exciting, well thought out, historically intricate fiction.
Profile Image for Jackie Rogers.
1,153 reviews13 followers
May 26, 2017
This is a spy novel taking place in and around 1935 and in Tunisia. Is about Mary MacPherson and her family and friends. Made me laugh and made me cry. Made me want to kill. Such is the material of a well written book. Has adventures, mayhem, and killing. Will read this author again. Thanks to Goodreads.
34 reviews5 followers
June 1, 2017
I absolutely loved this book. It was interesting and also intriguing. The Glossary and the Author's Notes helped make it easier to relate to the language and the place of this story in history.
Profile Image for V.E. Ulett.
Author 5 books167 followers
September 9, 2017
This was a re-read and I chose the audio book. I'm glad I did, the narrator was perfectly suited to this fast-paced thriller.
Profile Image for Helen.
44 reviews3 followers
September 29, 2018
Here is my brief take on this book which is a historical mystery set in pre-WWII Tunisia:

This book starts out incredibly fast; there isn’t a long, drawn out build, it just gets straight to the point. I love the setting and descriptions, and the mystery that surrounds the “package” everyone is trying to get their hands on. I even like each of the characters in the book. But then, the story just kind of ends. I finished the book asking more questions than getting answers.

I expected some big twist in the end (which I don't believe ever happened). I'm wondering if there was more depth to the book other people picked up on and maybe I didn't (which I genuinely hope I am not that superficial). It appears many people thought highly of this book, so I wonder what I am missing...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for V.E. Ulett.
Author 5 books167 followers
October 7, 2016
Set between the two world wars, Dido’s Crown is a literary thriller with a fine ensemble cast. Mary is in Tunisia for the Grand Prix, and to distance herself from a husband whose character she’s begun to suspect. Coerced into collecting a package while in North Africa, Mary lands in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy and is reunited with two friends from the past. The charming duo of Will Simpson and Tom Harris, once assistants to Mary’s professor father, have their own intrigues and interests in Tunisia. The action takes place across a finely realized political, cultural, and geographic landscape. Dido’s Crown combines international adventure with witty characters and banter reminiscent of a Phyrne Fisher mystery.
Profile Image for Linda Ulleseit.
Author 10 books122 followers
March 12, 2017
I couldn't put this book down. This is a thrilling mystery set in Tunisia, a part of the world I don't know much about. I felt like I was there in the country, as well as in the time period, in this book. The characters have been friends since childhood who have drifted apart in adulthood as childhood friends do. The reader gets a true sense of their complicated bond--underneath the baggage and the current mess they truly love each other.
Profile Image for Yaaresse.
2,026 reviews16 followers
March 14, 2017
Disclaimer: As stated in my GR profile, my personal rule is to rate, but not comment on a book if I know (or have ever known) the author. Most of my friends know I have this crazy ethical quirk on the topic. They're either OK with it or they know me well enough to know I'm just going to dig my heels in if challenged on it. Also, given Amazon's review guidelines, which would be logical to assume are now shared by Goodreads, I'm not going to risk throwing a good book under the bus.

So, yes, I know the author, and I did receive the book as a gift with no strings attached. And I also say in my profile that if I decide to break my own rule, I'll give full disclosure. So there.

That out of the way, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good action-adventure or 1930s-era story. If GR allowed partial stars, I'd go with a 4.75, but am rounding up just as I would (and have) with other books.
Profile Image for Karen.
67 reviews2 followers
October 9, 2016
Disclaimer: The author is a friend of mine. However she did not ask me to read her book, nor did I receive a review copy

I very much enjoyed this book - I read it on a long plane journey and it kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next. It's a great blend of fairly pacy plot with convincing character development, and as the book goes on we get to understand more about the 3 main protagonists and how their friendship has developed over the years. The real star for me though was Julie's depiction of Tunisia. I really felt like I was walking through the souk with Mary at some points. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dianna Rostad.
Author 1 book114 followers
December 16, 2016
A brave and sassy young woman gets drawn into an epic tangle of international spies in pre WWII Tunisia. Having no understanding of the times and politics in this place and period, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dido's Crown for all the texture she applied to this world. (I am now craving Harissa) The characters are lovingly unforgettable. A must read for those who appreciate history and spy thrillers!
Profile Image for Joan Mettauer.
Author 7 books18 followers
October 31, 2016
I found this work of historical fiction quite hard to read, and in fact I'm sorry to report that I had to skim quite a lot of it out of sheer boredom. The author, while quite evidently knowing her history, has overused the 'show, don't tell' secret to good writing! Descriptive adjectives are used to the extreme - likewise with descriptions of setting/scene. I'm truly sorry, but I just didn't enjoy it. I won this book on Good Reads Giveaways.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,322 reviews44 followers
June 12, 2019
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. My expectations were not that high, but it was a fun ride. Often while reading I felt like I was in an Agatha Christie book- other than including some more adult themes/language occasionally that Christie would not have used, it felt authentic. I can't say I am an expert or anything, simply a book lover who has read many mysteries/adventure/spy thrillers from that era. I feel that Julie K. Rose really captured the essence of that genre and time period.
Profile Image for Robert Nelson.
Author 3 books10 followers
October 19, 2016
I love espionage thrillers and this was a terrific read...great characters, snappy dialogue and "keep 'em guessing" plot.
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews

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