Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tears of...boredom

Tasha Alexander

Tears of Pearl
A Fatal Waltz
A Poisoned Season
And Only to Decieve

Tears of Pearl is the fourth novel in the Emily Ashton Victorian era series. Emily, a scholarly Victorian outcast and widow, has married her sweetheart, Colin Hargreaves, and they are on their honeymoon in Turkey.

In the previous books and especially the first two, Emily is appealing since she is at odds with so many of the mores of her society and with her cold society mother.  Emily makes mistakes and struggles to learn about her dead husband and herself and find her place in the world. In the process she gains a new love and solves crimes beginning with her husband's death. I really enjoyed the first three books in this series. Tasha Alexander had clearly done a lot of research and they were fresh and well-written and interesting.

In Tears of Pearl, Emily has lost much of her appeal. This book was a big disappointment. She is no longer struggling with herself or her society - she is a smug know at all, a representative of British colonialism who goes to a foreign country and provides instruction for the rulers of the country about how to conduct their affairs. This derivative and frankly pretty boring novel reminded me strongly of Elizabeth Peters without the humor or even Anna and the King of Siam with its escape-from-the-harem subplot. Alexander is at great pains to show us Constantinople but it never comes alive as anything more than a backdrop. Her redition of Victorian England was much more convincing. The characters were thin and the dialogue trying. I slogged through it all although by the middle of the book I was tired of it.

One can only hope that Emily will regain her appeal when she goes home. Assuming the next novel is not set in Transylvania, South Africa, or Egypt.

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