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The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann
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The Stockholm Octavo (2012)

by Karen Engelmann

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English (26)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All (30)
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13/2014 ( )
  moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
Took a two-week break with this one while I read The Drafter. ( )
  Heather_Brock | Nov 23, 2016 |
Not bad, but it drags. ( )
  ehines | Oct 18, 2016 |
This is an amusing novel set during the 18th c. rule of Gustav III, King of Sweden and Finland. Gustav, an admirer of Voltaire, was a patron of the arts, establishing the Swedish Academy, the Royal Opera, and the Royal Swedish Dramatic Theatre. He was also a believer in absolute monarchy and in the 1789 Act of Unity and Security granted wide-ranging rights to commoners and almost totally curbed the power of the nobility, thus gaining a powerful set of enemies.

While political power plays are central to The Stockholm Octavo, the novel, it is at core a historical romance. The protagonist, Emil Larsson, is a bureaucrat in the Customs Office, an inveterate gambler, and in need of a wife if he is to keep his position. He seeks the aid of Sofia Sparrow, a French ex-patriate who runs a gambling house with a famous Tarot-reading business on the side, patronized by the King himself. She agrees to a fortune-casting octavo for Emil, and he becomes her agent of sorts. She needs information about what is going on at the soirees of the Uzanne, Baroness Kristina, arch foe of the King, champion of the aristocracy, and maven of the language of fans. Emil as an eligible young bachelor has entree and serves as her spy.

The plot becomes very involved, and if the reader has no patience for tarot-lore or the intricacy of fan usage in 18th c. courts, I would advise him/her to avoid this one (my husband started and stopped reading after about 50 pages). I did find much of it intriguing, and I enjoyed eaves-dropping (with the help of Wikipedia) on the life of Stockholm in the 18th c. ( )
1 vote janeajones | Dec 19, 2015 |
I enjoyed it overall. The amount of time spent on the fans was excessive. I wish she would have spent more time on the octavo. I think if you like historical fiction it will be an enjoyable read. ( )
  bibliophile_pgh | Jan 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
" ... an irresistible cipher between two covers — an atmospheric tale of many rogues and a few innocents gambling on politics and romance in the cold, cruel north."
 
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Stockholm is called the Venice of the North, and with good reason.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061995347, Hardcover)

Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town—a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor—until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection. She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision—if he can find them.

Emil begins his search, intrigued by the puzzle of his Octavo and the good fortune Mrs. Sparrow's vision portends. But when Mrs. Sparrow wins a mysterious folding fan in a card game, the Octavo's deeper powers are revealed. For Emil it is no longer just a game of the heart; collecting his eight is now crucial to pulling his country back from the crumbling precipice of rebellion and chaos. Set against the luminous backdrop of late eighteenth-century Stockholm, as the winds of revolution rage through the great capitals of Europe, The Stockholm Octavo brings together a collection of characters, both fictional and historical, whose lives tangle in political conspiracy, love, and magic in a breathtaking debut that will leave you spellbound.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:38 -0400)

Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town--a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor--until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection. She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision--if he can find them.… (more)

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