Wednesday, May 7, 2008
And Only To Deceive - Tasha Alexander
When I read the back cover of this book I was immediately interested. There's something very appealing and romantic about getting to know someone by his letters and personal papers. Unfortunately for Lady Ashton her husband is already dead when she starts to get to know him that way.
For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily's dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married so cavalierly. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love with his wife. Emily becomes fascinated with this new image of her dead husband and she immerses herself in all things ancient and begins to study Greek.
Emily's intellectual pursuits and her desire to learn more about Philip take her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum, one of her husband's favourite places. There, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artefacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. And to complicate matters, she's juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond the marrying kind. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprises about Philip and causes her to question the role in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated
I found this one a very enjoyable story. I liked to know how Emily starts to admire her husband and is curious enough about his personal hobbies to start making inquiries, read the Iliad and studying ancient Greek. I particularly enjoyed the part about the British Museum and the gentlemen interest with classic sculpture that seemed to lead to multiple copies of the objects in exhibition. One strong point was how Alexander starts all chapters with an entry of Phillip's diary. It made it all the more poignant.
However this interest and the fact that she finds many original pieces in her country house lead her to believe Phillip may have been involved in illegal activities of exchanging the original pieces in the museum for copies. She decides to investigate further and develops a personal interest in the art.
At the same time Emily, a young and now very rich widow, learns to enjoy the freedom she now has and her behaviour sometimes shocks her mother whose biggest ambition seems to be for her daughter to get married again. Emily has one suitor almost from the beginning - Andrew Palmer - and also develops a friendship with the man who was her husband's best friend - Colin Hargreaves. They will both influence her in different ways. She also has strong female friendships with whom she will attempt some rebellious gestures, like drinking port with gentleman after dinner.
I liked the Victorian world portrayed here and the mix between mystery, historical fiction and romance.
Posted also at Historical Tapestry