Dear Friends–I am receiving Christmas early! A very fine commentary on “Jenny Kidd” by reviewer Jerry L. Wheeler. Thank you, Jerry, for taking the time to read the book and share your opinion:
Jenny Kidd – Laury A. Egan (Vagabondage Press)
Buy it direct from Vagabondage Press
I love getting presents through the mail, especially unexpected books. Some books I ask for, some are pressed upon me by eager authors, but others fall into my lap through the courtesy of the USPS, media mail. Not all are good. Some are wretched. But some are little gems, like Laury A. Egan’s atmospheric Jenny Kidd.
A distant relative of the pirate, Jenny Kidd is a young woman spending autumn in Venice, escaping from her overbearing father as she works on her portfolio of paintings. While at the Guggenheim Collection studying Kandinsky, she meets Randi, an expat Brit who invites her to a masked ball at the Palazzo Barbon. Jenny is entranced by the beautiful Caterina Barbon. Caterina and her brother Sebastiano promise to aid her in her career. However, their motives are less than pure.
A top-notch thriller that takes on art forgery, murder and incest, Jenny Kidd spins its web as languidly as an afternoon by the canals. Egan’s descriptions of the food, the art, and the general atmosphere are as purposeful as they are evocative. Her prose is full-bodied and elegant, and she makes prosecco and prosciutto as sumptuous as the work of Titian and Tintoretto.
Jenny herself is also well-rounded—a woman seeking independence, anxious to make her own way in the world yet still dependent on her parents for the funds to do so. Venice represents freedom for her, which is why the robbery, the kidnapping and her eventual imprisonment within the walls of the palazzo seem so brutally unjust in those surroundings. And you couldn’t ask for more worldly, dangerous, perverse, and utterly charming villains than Caterina and Sebastiano.
As delicious as Egan’s writing is when it comes to describing masked balls, four-course lunches, and miniatures painted in pastels, she also knows how to propel a mean action scene. The last twenty pages or so are a breathless rush of dark passageways, tense interrogations, and perfectly executed gore that leave you gasping and satisfied.
And that’s how I felt when I finished the book—satisfied. Just as you would be after a fine meal or an afternoon excursion with good friends. All the ends were tied up with stylish bows, and I really regretted leaving Venice and Jenny Kidd behind.
But I can hardly wait to see where the mail will take me next.
©, 2012, Jerry Wheeler