Today is the first of two days featuring Elizabeth Aston and her Mountjoy series. Below is a review of the first book in the series. Tomorrow, the blog will feature a guest post by Elizabeth. Both days, we’ll be offering a terrific Book Giveaway! Keep reading for details!
The World, The Flesh and The Bishop is the first book in Elizabeth Aston’s Mountjoy series, and it is terrific. I am happy to be a participant in her current blog tour, and was very fortunate to get to read her story.
There is a large cast of characters in the town of Eyot, a small town in England which is known for its cathedrals and music. The story centers around Quinta, a young woman who has an eight-year-old daughter that she is raising on her own. She and her daughter, Phoebe, live with a famous composer where she is both his housekeeper and lover. While she is fond of Alban, she is not in love with him. Around them both swirl an entire town of people, including Lydia, an old school friend of Quinta’s whose grandmother is a well-to-do and very important woman in town, Alban’s brother Simon, a married man hopelessly in love with Quinta, and many others.
There is a lot going on in this book, with affairs past and present, relationships developing and ending, and Quinta somehow in the center of it all just trying to manage her increasingly unruly life.
Add to this the impending arrival of the new Bishop and his wife, who both have unexpected connections of their own in town.
The book is well-written, and the story is very engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and look forward to the next in the series. It is rare in a story with this many characters to find that, not only do you know who each of them is without having to refer back, but you like most of them. Except of course for the unlikeable ones.
The only negative thing I can say about the book is something I have mentioned before in regard to other eBooks: sloppy proofing. I need to say in fairness that I may have received an early copy, and more proofing may have been done afterward. I’m not sure, but I certainly hope this is the case. There are more than a few places where names were mis-typed (Quintal instead of Quinta) or the wrong name substituted (talking about “Quinta” to Quinta when they were actually meaning “Phoebe” for example). There are a few typos here and there, but mainly the problems seemed to be in the consistency of names. With a list of characters this long and intricate, consistency is very important in order for the reader to keep everyone straight.
All in all however, I recommend this book to anyone who likes a romantic novel that goes nowhere near the “bodice-ripper” category that so frequently gives romance novels a bad name. It was an enjoyably convoluted story with many ins and outs.
And now, for my favorite part of writing a blog, a book giveaway!