And Only to Deceive Paperback – Oct 10 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In this charming late Victorian romantic suspense novel, Emily, a young and beautiful widow, regrets her husband's African hunting expedition death less than is proper. The late Philip, Viscount Ashton, had a passion for classical antiquity, and Emily, in an attempt to get to know her husband postmortem, uses her newfound independence in London to study it. In the process, she forms a friendship with Cecile du Lac, a Parisian of a certain age, and realizes that there was more to Philip than she realized—including his genuine passion and love for her. The charming Colin Hargreaves may have been involved with Philip in art forgeries, and Andrew Palmer proposes to Emily and then offers evidence that Philip is still alive. By this time, Emily and Cecile are a well-practiced team of amateur sleuths: Phillip's secrets begin to emerge, and travel to Greece provides the possibilities of a new life. Alexander makes Emily light but sympathetic, and conveys period flavor without being ponderous. Her knowledge of the ethical dilemmas posed by Victorian etiquette is considerable; sexual chemistry in particular is handled with exquisite delicacy. The archeological background will lure readers who like to dig for their clues. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Emily Bromley, a Victorian beauty, doesn't really want to marry, but her mother's persistent pressure forces her to accept wealthy Viscount Philip Ashton's proposal. When Philip dies on safari in Africa a few months after the wedding, Emily feels relief more than grief. Now the wealthy widow of a man she hardly knew, she is free to pursue her heart's real passion--reading! Yet once Emily begins to hear stories about Philip's interest in Greek literature and his exquisite collection of antiquities, Emily begins to feel herself falling in love with her mysterious, now-dead husband. But the more she discovers about Philip's extraordinary life, the more she fears that his death may not have been an accident. Compounding her concern are some very mixed messages from Philip's two best friends and the mounting evidence that he may have engaged in some backdoor business dealings. Who can Emily trust? This engaging, witty mix of Victorian cozy and suspense thriller draws its dramatic spark from the endearingly headstrong heroine's growth in life and love. A memorable debut. Misha Stone
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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This book contains three of my favorite things to read about, though I didn't know it at the time I first bought this novel which made this book a delightful surprise. These things are: Greek mythology, intrigue/crime and love in Victorian England. This is the story of Emily Ashton, whose recent husband Phillip Ashton has just died on a safari in Africa. This doesn't bother her much because she only really married him to get away from her mother and didn't know him well enough to morn him in any way. His death leaves her wealthy, but with two years of mourning to get through; she has a great deal of time on her hands.
So she spends this time learning all about one of Phillip's main interests, the story of the battle of Troy in the Iliad, by Homer and Greek antiques. Most of Phillips finds were donated to the British museum and as Emily studied and learns more about her late husband and his world she learns through his journals how much he loved her and she begins to fall in love with her dead husband (tragic really.) At the same time two men appear on the horizon, both friends of Phillips, Colin and Andrew competing for her affection.
But Emily is discovering that some of the pieces in the British museum, pieces donated by her now beloved dead husband, are forgeries, and Phillip may have been a thief. Even worse, Colin or Andrew may be involved in these thefts. And then come the news that Phillip may still be alive....
This was a good book. As I said previously I really enjoyed the authors writing style and the dialog was all very cute (if you've seen "Emma" you'll just hear the words in your head.) Emily is a great heroine, she's smart, has actual self esteem for a women of her time and real ideas about how women should function in society, and the whole falling in love with a dead person thing is just a wonderful literary device because it makes for an unspeakable tragic situation-always mourning the time you lost with a person you now love. Aside from that the book is romantic, suspenseful and just all around good.
But it doesn't have that special spark that makes a book great, so, four stars.
This is one book I know I'm going to re-read. Some of the other reviews say Ms. Alexander is going to write a sequel, I sure hope they're right.
(I like Elizabeth Peters, Anne Perry, and Elizabeth George.)
Emily, like Julia, is made a young and rather sudden widow at the start of the story. The thing is, she never much cared for poor, dead Philip. He was simply a way of escaping her overbearing mother. To the cynical Emily, he represented the lesser of all the evils courting her. After his death, however, Emily is shocked to discover her husband was wildly, irrevocably in love with her and she had no idea. Through his journals, letters, and stories told by his closest friends, she comes to know and love her late husband. As she embarks on a study of ancient Greek language and sculpture (in memory of Philip who was something of an afficionado), Emily becomes involved in a ring of forgeries leading back to Philip and his friends. It seems she has a few more things left to learn about the man she married.
The best thing about AND ONLY TO DECEIVE is the wonderful immersion in all things Greek. I was instantly taken back to my history of civ classes and what a wonderful experience I had reading The Iliad (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) for the first time. Emily, too, had the good sense to prefer Hector to Achilles. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Emily fall in love with her husband and struggle with the fact of coming to know him secondhand and all too late. I loved the way she embraced the life of the scholar as a tribute to him and how she tried to move on despite the ever-constricting mourning requirements imposed on all sides. Unfortunately, her loyal love for her husband soon becomes a bit ridiculous as it is clear he is dead and was not, perhaps, the capital fellow his friends made him out to be. Emily also suffers a few TSTL moments with regards to the merits of her two suitors as well as her endeavors to unmask the villain. As a result, I grew a bit impatient on the whole. Not enough to deter me from the next installment, as I did enjoy many things about this light and charming mystery. Here's hoping things pick up a bit in the next one.
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