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Cezanne's Quarry [Paperback]

Barbara Pope

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books; Reprint edition (Aug. 25 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605980609
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605980607
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #755,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a page-turner mystery June 16 2011
By Alain Jehlen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Most good mysteries are puzzles. You follow the detective trying to put together the clues, and try to figure it out before he or she does. But generally, the detective isn't changed as a person in the course of solving the crime. This book is different. It's a great mystery, but also an engrossing novel. I connected with Bernard Martin, the young, novice judge, an outsider with a difficult past and problematic future, who suddenly finds a dramatic murder case dumped in his lap. The dead woman is fascinating, but I cared as much about his fate as hers. A great read!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cezanne's Quarry Oct. 19 2009
By Chapati - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Plot Summary:
In late summer, 1885, a woman's body is found in a quarry near Aix-en-Provence, France. She was raped and murdered. Bernard Martin, a shy new judge in the district, is assigned to the case along with the rough-and-tumble constable in the district, Franc. At first the case seems simple. The woman, Solange Vernet, was probably murdered in a jealous rage by her lover, the English geologist Charles Westerbury. But then they learn that the artist, Cezanne, had a relationship with the woman as well. So maybe it was he who killed her. Underlying the case, and running as a theme throughout the novel, is the French criminal justice system in the late 1900s, the terrifying prospect of being a woman with little means at the turn of the century, and the battle between science and religion.

Review:
Barbara Pope Corrado really packs a lot into a pretty quick read. In addition to a murder mystery (or two, or three), she gives readers a primer on French law and the country's difficulties choosing between religion and science. The murder mystery was interesting, but I didn't feel any particular affinity for any of the main characters in the novel, and so I didn't really care whether anyone was guilty or innocent.

I did, however, find the historical context fascinating, particularly the struggle for supremacy between science and religion. I didn't realize that it was a subject battled so openly and passionately at the turn of the 19th century, but Pope makes it clear that in France, at least, it certainly was.

I also don't know much about the French law system, but it seems like it was fairly unjust at the time. And, as usual in history, when laws are lax or unjust, it is often the women who suffer by them. This story certainly highlights that.

As to the characters in the novel- well, to be frank, I could take them or leave them. There were a lot, and many of them had chapters told from their points of view. I found the protagonist, Bernard Martin the judge, to be a nice if somewhat dull man. I just don't think I knew much more about him at the end of the book than I did at the beginning. As to the rest of the characters- Westerbury, Cezanne, Hortense and Franc- they all annoyed me. Westerbury was a pompous jerk, Cezanne was...odd. Hortense, Cezanne's lover, was whiny and crabby and Franc was a horror. The only character that I would have really liked to get to know more (and who did not have her POV represented) was Clarie, Martin's love interest.

I think in some ways the multiple points of view worked for the author as we got to see many characters in different lights- Cezanne, for example, is presented as very conflicted, depressed and ultimately run-down man. We would never have gotten so many dimensions on him as a character if not for the multiple points of view. But at the same time, we lost the ability to really bond with a character because it seemed like we were always being held at arms' length.

Overall, I think the book was a good read, and pretty quick considering the hefty themes it covers. I really enjoyed the exposure to an era of French history with which I am unfamiliar, and I hope to see more books by the author that are set in the same period.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Put it Down - A mystery about sex and religion in Provence Sept. 11 2011
By Marilyn Chapin Massey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Barabara Pope puts you in the picture. With wonderful detail, she leads you into the Provencal quarry that Cezanne painted over and over again. Lying on the multi-colored rocks you find the body of a beautiful woman and you wonder if Cezanne murdered her. You are immediately immersed in debates about evolution and faith, the tensions between social groups and the perils of being both a woman and poor. Pope's mystery shocks and surprises, in part, because it is such a superb history. Don't miss this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elusive and allusive as a Cezanne painting Feb. 12 2013
By judy petsonk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Like a Cezanne painting, Cezanne's Quarry builds a portrait that is both allusive and elusive, of the region, the characters and motivations, and the plot. Bernard Martin, the sleuthing judge, is appealing, with real emotions and frustrations connected to a real job, rather different in the French judicial system from what we assume in America. The red herrings are a more subtle rust color than red so you don't feel misled when you end up guessing wrong until the very end. And although Cezanne, a suspect, isn't the focus of the quest,you end up learning a few fascinating facts about the character along the way. With a historian's faithfulness to detail and a Francophile's attention to flavor, Cezanne's Quarry gave me a taste of a just-out-of-reach past world that I had not known before.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for her next book! Oct. 25 2009
By C. D. Foster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I bought this in hardbound -- see my review under the hardbound edition -- but now that it is out in paperback I'll buy copies for my friends. (I guess I'm too cheap to buy a bunch of HB's.)
I found this first novel by Professor Pope absolutely fascinating, and can hardly wait for her new one coming out soon.
Unlike the prior reviewer, I found the characters well-portrayed and interesting. The historical context added to story, as did the rather sociological -- but never stuffy -- information on French society at that time.

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