Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Rather Lovely Inheritance, by C. A. Belmond ($15)

I don't go out of my way to read books in series order. I realize sometimes when I finally read an earlier book in the series, the dramatic turn of events may lack drama. I already know what happened because it was summarized right at the beginning of the next book. It's the price I pay for being an unorganized shelf wanderer. I look at the covers and judge them, sometimes choosing one just because I like its look. (I know, right, that makes me a compromised bibliophile.) Sometimes I like the title. Sometimes I hit the jackpot: good cover + good title + good book. Example? The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Anyway, back on track.

I read the second book, A Rather Curious Engagement, in C. A. Belmond's "Incurable Romantic" series first. So now I just finished the first book, A Rather Lovely Inheritance. Going in, I knew what happened to the goofily named Penny Nichols. I knew how her great-aunt's estate was settled. I knew the twist at the end.

I enjoyed it anyway.

There are no real thrills and chills. There are a couple of mildly threatening incidents, which are speedily resolved with no harm to fish or fowl. You can know that and still enjoy the story.

Belmond does an especially good job giving us what we want to hear about a cozy villa in France, a cozy small town in Italy, and an elegant (and cozy) flat in London. One or two swear words dot the otherwise impeccable landscape. Comfortably recommend this book to your starry-eyed teenager or your tea-sipping granny, unless both are tough biker chicks with tattoos and spacers in their earlobes who put hot sauce on everything.

The aforementioned Penny is an impecunious American. She is notified that she may have been awarded something from the estate of her recently deceased great-aunt Penelope. As a result, she reconnects in London with her suave cousin Jeremy and other family members. Besides the (awesome) flat in London, she receives an old car, stabled at the French villa. Penny and Jeremy go on a treasure hunt, strange people are also vying for the treasure, and we enjoy a great travelogue.

Belmond shows humor and captures Penny's youthful voice rather well:

"Ah, nuts," I said aloud each time I remembered things I'd said about my love life. "Ah, nuts," I'd repeat. For it wasn't so much what I'd said as how I'd said it. The tone, the gestures. "Loserville," I said aloud, and my tone of agony reverberated in Aunt Penelope's elegant hallway.

Here's Belmond capturing the flavor of her book in a nutshell:

Oh, I knew perfectly well that nostalgia for the past -- especially a past that isn't even our own -- is like believing in fairy tales. But maybe our rushed new century is missing something slow, sweet and elegant from bygone eras. If we even remembered to look for charm and elegance in our lives could we manage to find it? I wondered.

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