Stalking the pages of history

Lovely review from Calmgrove. I like the sound of this historical detective story, delving into Baroque music and the labyrinth twisting streets and passages of Venice. Sounds quite a treat!


steffani-agostino Agostino Steffani

Donna Leon The Jewels of Paradise
Arrow Books 2013 (2012)

Biographers are akin to stalkers: they remorselessly research the background to their victims, obsessively familiarise themselves with their subjects’ feats and foibles, and lurk around in their vicinity hoping to pick up tidbits of information to feed their fascination. So do historical researchers, and so do fiction writers — but with one major difference. When the subject is deceased, or even imaginary, they are not harmed, nor is their personal privacy invaded or their equanimity threatened.

In The Jewels of Paradise musicologist Caterina Pellegrini finds herself drawn back to her native Venice by the promise of research into the papers left by a mysterious Baroque composer who, she subsequently discovers, is one Agostino Steffani. But that’s not all that’s mysterious about her job. Who are the strange Venetian cousins, Stievani and Scapenelli, who have hired her for this hush-hush job, and what role…

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3 thoughts on “Stalking the pages of history

    1. My pleasure Chris. The book sounds great. I love Venice, and may well buy a copy of that book myself the next time I get a chance to holiday there. I mostly read history these days (and architecture) But it’s always great to get one teeth into a good novel on hols. I always enjoy your blog. Keep up the great work . -Arran.


  1. Do take a copy with you when you next visit Venice: you’ll be able to follow in Caterina’s footsteps and see what the (fictional) Dottoressa saw! And of course Venice itself has not only history and architecture aplenty but also that rich musical tradition (though Steffani’s links were with Castelfranco).

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