Saturday, August 2, 2008

38. And Only to Deceive

The title: And Only to Deceive
The author: Tasha Alexander
Publication: HarperCollins, 2005
Got it from: The highly scientific process of "it was in a box of books someone donated to the library": Part II

I actually finished this book awhile ago, and it's a shame I didn't get to write about it sooner, because I haven't enjoyed a book like this in a long time. (Our Interweb has been down, in case you're wondering).

In this Victorian-era mystery, young widow Lasy Ashton has been in mourning for her husband, the Viscount Ashton, for over a year. She didn't know him all that well, and thus feels no loss for him, while enjoying the privilege and freedom that comes with being a widow in the 19th century. That is until she stumbles across her husband's journals and discovers he was very much in love with her. Much to her dismay, she finds herself falling in love with her dead husband. With her new discovery, she takes up her husband's passion for classical literature and art, and soon stumbles upon a forgery ring centred around the British Museum. Did you say British Museum? Yes, I know, I have a weakness for the British Museum and books about it. There will actually be two more reviews coming up featuring the British M. but I shall leave that for later.

And Only to Deceive is full of wonderful secondary characters, like Cecile, the irreverent French dowager with a mania for miniatures, who takes Emily under her wing; and Margaret, her port-swilling, cigar smoking bluestocking friend. Emily is herself is a wonderfully drawn heroine, and her growth from rebellious daughter to intelligent woman is a delight to watch unfold. And of course I couldn't go without mentioning Colin (I have dubbed him Mr. Sexy Pants), her husband's best friend, whose "concern" for Emily goes beyond friendship. If you know what I mean. And I think you do.

And the settings! Late Victorian London, Paris during the height of the Impressionists and, briefly, Greece. What more could you ask for? This book was simply a treat to read, through and through. I can't wait to get my hands on the other two in the series. A-

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