Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery by Jennifer S Alderson #NewRelease

Adventures of Zelda Richardson Book 3

Rituals

Zelda Richardson is an adventurous heroine who loves to solve mysteries.  She needs to succeed in her placement as an intern at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam but the work involves Asmat Bis poles from Papua New Guinea, totems made for the spirits of the dead, whose evil looking faces seem to be leading her into danger.

 

Seven crates have been discovered unopened for 50 years in the archive depot of Rotterdam’s Wereldmuseum.  As Zelda and the more important staff from the museums observe, the crates are unpacked, revealing not just Bis poles, but also human remains of the head-hunting Asmat culture of what was then Dutch New Guinea.  But the most intriguing discovery is the leather-bound journal of Nicholas Mayfield, a wealthy American anthropologist who went missing in 1962.

 

Interspersed with Zelda’s transcription of the journal and her investigations, are passages from 1962, where we discover the frustrations and difficulties Nicholas had experienced while trading in Dutch New Guinea, hindered rather than helped by experienced Dutch anthropologist, Albert Schenk.  Albert is now Director of the Wereldmuseum and he seems to be a thoroughly unpleasant, arrogant individual.

 

Soon, Zelda is alarmed when two people close to her are murdered.  She continues with her task of transcribing the journal and researching the background of the Bis poles for an imminent exhibition, but she keeps information close to her chest and, at times, is unwise in those she chooses to trust.

 

This exciting story is also an education about a culture of which I knew very little.  The actions of colonial powers, the church and collectors of artifacts is called into questions but there is also our moral dilemma of whether to exhibit treasures from the past or return them to their source.  But don’t let this put you off; you will be on the edge of your seat wondering if Zelda will take one risk too many as well as wishing to discover what actually happened to Nicholas Mayfield.  A thoroughly good read.

An amazing picture of a Bis pole

Rituals of the Dead on Amazon UK and Amazon US

My review of Zelda’s first adventure Down and Out in Kathmandu

Advertisements

The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris #FridayReads

The Lost Words

I bought this large sumptuous book at Christmas as a present for my husband but really it was for me.  Written as a response to the removal of words such as acorn and willow from a children’s dictionary, it laments the loss of these words to our children’s vocabulary and is a book of spells to help the words return accompanied by gorgeous pictures in medieval gold.  The spells are acrostics, filled with kennings like, “colour-giver,” and “ripple-calmer,” to describe the kingfisher and delightful alliteration.  You can guess the next spell poem by seeking out the name from the golden letters or gaze in awe at the wonderful pictures.

Can you guess what is being described in these words?

This shape-shifter’s a sheer breath-taker, a sure heart-stopper but you’ll only ever spot a shadow-flutter, bubble skein.

This swift-swimmer’s a silver-miner. With trout its ore it bores each black pool deep.

If you can find space for this impressive book, search in the children’s section and take it home to share and treasure.

The Lost Words on Amazon UK

back

 

 

The Betrayal by Anne Allen #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Betrayal

The Betrayal is set mostly in Guernsey but in two eras. First, we find ourselves in 1940, where Teresa Bichard is distraught at leaving her husband, Leo, on the island while she flees to her family on the mainland with their baby daughter. The Germans are expected to invade imminently but Leo feels he must look after their home and antique business in Guernsey. Fast forward to 2011 and we meet Nigel and his twin sister Fiona, who have bought that antique shop, but from a different owner.

While decorating, the twins find a hidden trap door concealing some paintings which seem to include a Renoir. As an art historian, Fiona has the contacts to authenticate the painting, so she returns to London, but while she is away, events take a sinister turn. Nigel appears to have committed suicide but Fiona (and the reader) does not believe this so she employs a private detective. Is his death connected to the painting and to the betrayal of Leo Bichard, who was sent to a concentration camp in 1942?

This book is full of detailed descriptions of the beautiful beaches and stunning views on the island and delicious meals served in sumptuous surroundings. All Fiona’s friends are wealthy and live in amazing properties which is delightful to read about, but seems slightly like leafing through a glossy homes magazine.

In some ways a cosy mystery but with thrilling use of tension and a warm budding romance, it is a pleasure to read. The inclusion of events during the occupation made it particularly interesting to me. Although book 6 of Anne Allen’s Guernsey novels, it is a standalone story. I shall be seeking out earlier volumes in the series.

The Betrayal is available at Amazon UK

and at Amazon US

Anne Allen

Anne Allen

Anne was born in Rugby to a Welsh father and an English mother. As a result, she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea. Now she is based in Devon to be near her daughter and two small grandchildren. Her restless spirit has meant many moves, the longest stay being in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns. Her younger son is based in London – ideal for city break.

By profession Anne was a psychotherapist who long had a desire to write and Dangerous Waters, her first novel, was published in 2012. It was awarded Silver(Adult Fiction) in TheWishingShelfAwards 2012.

http://anneallen.co.uk/

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston #FridayReads #RBRT

Everybody's Some

In Beryl Kingston’s latest novel, we follow the life of Rosie Goodison, from the day she sets out to become a nursemaid at Arundel Castle, at the age of 12.  She is told that she is, “nobody of consequence,” but she is a strong independent girl of the early 20th century and she is determined to take on everything she can attain.  A few years later she finds a temporary job as housekeeper to two young toffs on holiday from Eton and when one of them gives her a reference to take to the RAC club in Pall Mall, she has no idea that his signature, Anthony Eden, will be of significance in the future.

 

On her afternoon off she meets Kitty, a young suffragette, whose brother Joe is a docker.  Soon Rosie meets them regularly, increasing her political understanding as well as enjoying trips to Music Halls.  Romance blossoms as war approaches and both Rosie’s brother, Tommy, and her sweetheart, Joe, become soldiers.  There is tragedy and there are life-changing consequences.

 

But we first meet Rosie in a painting in an art gallery many years later, so how did that happen?  While working at the RAC club, Rosie had made the acquaintance of a young artist who wished her to model for him and when she finds herself unemployed at a difficult time in her life, Rosie agrees.

 

This novel is a superb description of southern England from the turn of the century until 1939.  Through the lives of poor families in the countryside and in London, the struggle to succeed and even to survive, despite war, unemployment and hardship, is shown clearly.  Rosie’s warm, vibrant character makes each event human and I identified strongly with her hopes and wishes for her family.  She embodies the title, “Everybody’s Somebody.”

Everybody’s Somebody can be found on Amazon UK

beryl2

Beryl Kingston

 Rosie's Book Review team 1

The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Lover's Portrait

American Art History student Zelda Richardson loves her life in Amsterdam, but entrance into the Master’s course in Museum Studies depends on her performance as an intern at the Amsterdam Historical Museum. She is asked to work on an online project to restore 1500 paintings stolen by the Nazis during World War Two to their rightful owners or descendants but she is not welcomed onto the project by the stiff, unfriendly Huub Konijn, senior curator at the Jewish Historical Museum, who designed the website.

But not content with her editing role, Zelda uses her previous web design experience to brighten up the front page, with her own choice of paintings, in an animation. Despite Huub’s criticism, one of these paintings, Irises, triggers a claimant almost instantly. Rita Brouwer, a large, jolly American woman claims it was painted for her elderly sister, but as Zelda begins to warm to this lady, another claimant turns up. Karen O’Neil is an unpleasant socialite, accompanied by her German lawyer, Konrad Heider. She has paperwork listing the painting in the Gallery of her grandfather, Arjan van Heemsvliet.

In parallel with events in 2015, we read about how many valuable paintings belonging to Dutch Jews were hidden in 1942 by Arjan and his friend, picture framer, Philip Verbeet who was Rita’s father. But both men disappeared and the location of the paintings is still unknown. We know more than Zelda about whom she should trust but part of the mystery is concealed until the end and Zelda’s impetuous, proactive investigation leads her into danger and thrilling action.

The novel gives a detailed account of the large quantity of art that was stolen and how rightful ownership is carefully researched, which of necessity slows down the first part of the story, but there is also a compelling mystery which makes the rest of book a real page turner. Zelda is a determined young woman who stumbles into predicaments because of her desire to reveal the truth and the other characters also have convincing motives and characteristics. A great read.

I have since discovered that this is the second book about Zelda, so I am now looking forward to reading Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery, Book one in the series.

The Lover’s Portrait can be purchased at Amazon UK or Amazon US

Rosie's Book Review team 1

#AtoZChallenge Letter V

V is for Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch painter of domestic interior scenes of everyday seventeenth century life.  Vermeer worked slowly and with great care, and frequently used very expensive pigments. He is noted for his skillful portrayal of light.  He was a reasonably successful painter in his lifetime, but he left his wife and children in debt at his death.  Nowadays Vermeer is most famous for his painting Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Vermeer

This simple picture of a woman with a milk jug inspired this poem:-

Vermeer

As long as the woman from Rijksmuseum

in painted silence and concentration

day after day pours milk

from the jug to the bowl,

the World does not deserve

the end of the world.

Wislawa Szymborska

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers

 

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge Letter P

P  is for Pablo Picasso

No-one can deny the impact and influence of the art created by Pablo Picasso.  In the early 20th century, after three years of travels around Spain and France, Picasso entered his Blue period.

guitar

blue

After meeting Fernande Oliver, who became his mistress, his paintings were influenced by his happy relationship with her and she appears in several of them.  During this Rose period his subjects were harlequins and circus folk in shades of orange and pink.

circus

Pierrot_et_Arlequin

Picasso’s African period from 1907-1909 was a blend of stylised figures as in African sculpture with the painting style of post-impressionist Cezanne and Gauguin.  His masterpiece of this period was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

demoiselles

In 1910 he turned to more abstract art.  Working with George Braque he created cubism.

girl

Girl with a Mandolin  1910

In 1935, Pablo stopped painting for a while and began to write poetry.  Some of his poems were clearly the work of a visual artist.

Dawn

The dawn that day rose

Just as the mist of the night

Subsided like a foam descending

To reveal clear water ahead

The Bees in the hive stirred about

To retrieve more honey

It was on that day that I stared into the

Mirror of luck.

Hours passed by just

As flies whizzed under a scorchy sun

The foam above the crystal water rose again

The mist of the dusk rose high above me

shattering the mirror to grits

I plunged down from a mountain

Into the depths of dreariness

It was then that I acknowledged

What I’ve been through

It was then that I screamed

‘HEY, day! It was now that I crystallized

your power in the mirror of my mind’

And thence I sat in the chair of dreariness

Waiting for the gleams of gold and silver

To shine on once more upon the mirror.

Pablo Picasso

But most dealt strongly with his feelings.

Oranges from the south of Spain

  Oranges from the south of Spain

stars hang out at night

linen left to dry

 

red geraniums along the balconies

nodding, nodding

willing to agree to anything

just to keep their colour

 

a gang of kids running through the streets

faceless pranksters

the moon a plate held before each face

who am I? saying who am I

running through the streets saying who am I?

 

the shadows of the buildings

becoming cats that move away

the trees immobilized

left to stand alone in the dark

rubbing their bark from regret

like cicadas

 

oranges have more delicacy

softly falling, falling

in the groves

on the hills

softly eaten, eaten

by the earth

swallowed whole

as if by a snake

not earth

as if by millions

slithering in the groves at night

millions

stalking the oranges that fall softly

softly to the earth

 

hunting there in the groves

that form a ring around each town

You can find a list of all the other A to Z Challengers here